Goat Mower

Sometimes Food Choices Are Not Really a Choice

Popular nutrition advice often holds that careful, healthy food choices pave the ideal path to good health. But sometimes, food choices are not entirely a matter of choice. Consider the case of people with ARFID – avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder.

This diagnosis is relatively new. Before the publication of DSM-5 in 2013, these people might just be labeled as very picky eaters. But it’s more than that. And now that ARFID is a distinct diagnosis, eating disorder experts are finding ways to provide real help for this condition.

ARFID is an eating disorder that appears most often in infancy or childhood. However, it can persist or exist in adults as well. People with ARFID cannot bear to eat more than a very few foods. This condition is more than just picky eating. It’s an aversion to normal foods that produces anxiety and distressing physical reactions. The aversion and anxiety is so strong that it prevents children from growing well. It gets in the way of a normal, healthy life.

Without therapy, a person with ARFID cannot simply choose more and different kinds of food to eat. With therapy, anxieties about food might persist, but they can be manageable.

So, make no mistake about it. Food choices are not always a simple matter of choice.

Click here for more from the New York Times and here for more from the Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt. For a more detailed overview, click here.

Goat Mower, photograph © Ketzirah Lesser & Art Drauglis / flickr

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January 18, 2017