by Dr. Pearl Hu @ Remede Therapy

“My kid is a picky eater, does he/she have ARFID?”

The common eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia, emerge in adolescence and commonly co-occurred with anxiety and depression. In contrary, ARFID often appears in early childhood as “extreme picky eating” and is less relevant to body-image concerns. The distress and anxiety associated with food is extremely intense and intolerable, even leading to weight loss or malnutrition.

Children or adults with ARFID experience strong aversive sensitivity about certain foods, such as broccoli, mushrooms, or fruits etc. High-carb food, such as deserts or grains, tend to be the “safe” food. Aversive food experience is described as disgusting sensation about texture, taste, or smell. Due to day-to-day unpleasant experiences with certain foods or traumatic eating experience, fear of choking (pseudo-dysphagia) or fear of vomiting (emetophobia) can develop overtime.

ARFID is not self-limited. Untreated condition can have significant health consequences. For severe cases, multidisciplinary approaches are necessary, including nutritionists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and internists. ARFID program at Boston Children’s Hospital can provide comprehensive support for those cases. Adolescents or adults who struggle with fear of choking (pseudo-dysphagia), fear of vomiting (emetophobia) or restrictive-eating without medical consequences can benefit from outpatient weekly cognitive behavioral therapy at Remede Therapy.