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According to the DSM-5, ARFID is diagnosed when:

  • An eating or feeding disturbance (e.g., apparent lack of interest in eating or food; avoidance based on the sensory characteristics of food; concern about aversive consequences of eating) as manifested by persistent failure to meet appropriate nutritional and/or energy needs associated with one (or more) of the following:

    • Significant weight loss (or failure to achieve expected weight gain or faltering growth in children).

    • Significant nutritional deficiency.

    • Dependence on enteral feeding or oral nutritional supplements.

    • Marked interference with psychosocial functioning.

  • ​The eating/feeding disturbance is not better explained by lack of available food or by an associated culturally sanctioned practice.

  • The eating/feeding disturbance does not occur exclusively during the course of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, and there is no evidence of a disturbance in the way in which one’s body weight or shape is experienced.

  • The eating/feeding disturbance is not attributable to a concurrent medical condition or not better explained by another mental disorder.

  • When the eating/feeding disturbance occurs in the context of another condition or disorder, the severity of the disturbance exceeds that routinely associated with the condition or disorder and warrants additional clinical attention.​​



Only a medical professional, often a clinical psychologist, can confirm a diagnosis of ARFID. If you’re concerned about your child or yourself, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible to minimise family anxiety, reduce mealtime stress and ensure adequate dietary intake.


Potential signs of ARFID:

  • Avoidance of whole food groups or textures (e.g. fruit. meat, vegetables; slimy and mixed textures).

  • Sensitivity to aspects of some foods e.g. temperature.

  • Gagging or retching at the smell or sight of a particular food(s).

  • Difficulty being in the presence of another person eating a non-preferred food.

  • Having a diet that is limited to (usually less than 10) 'preferred foods' ('safe foods').

  • Lack of interest in eating or missing meals completely (not feeling hungry).

  • Attempting to avoid social events where food would be present.

  • Struggling to stay and/or eat at a table during family mealtimes; eats only with distraction e.g. television.

  • Needing to take supplements to meet their nutritional needs and where energy intake is impaired.

And where energy intake is impaired: 

  • Stunted growth in children (not growing in height as expected).

  • Severe lack of energy to the point of not being able to cope without a nap during the day.

ARFID does not always, or only, lead to weight loss, but can be associated with normal weight or even overweight or obesity in individuals who are overly reliant on carbohydrates or energy-dense processed foods.

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