ARFID stands for Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. It was first introduced as a term in 2013. Before then, many food and eating-related conditions such as ‘selective eating disorder’, and ‘sensory food aversion’ were used to describe the eating difficulties that characterise the condition.
The ARFID Awareness UK website describes ARFID as being ‘characterised by a pattern of eating that avoids certain foods or food groups entirely and/or is restricted in quantity (eating small amounts). Avoidant and restrictive eating cannot be due to lack of available food, or cultural norms (e.g. someone who is fasting or chooses not to eat certain foods for religious or cultural reasons alone).’
ARFID is different to other restrictive eating disorders in that:
- ARFID isn’t affected by a person’s beliefs about the size and shape of their body.
- Someone with ARFID doesn’t restrict their food intake for the specific purpose of losing weight.
- ARFID doesn’t feature some of the other behaviours that can be associated with anorexia, bulimia, or OSFED, such as over-exercising.