It can be challenging to parent teens dealing with avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID). It is a complex disorder that may be difficult to understand. In this quick guide, we’ll help you gain a better understanding of ARFID and provide tips to support your teen.
What Is Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID)?
Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder is a mental health and eating disorder. Teens with this disorder eat a very small amount or range of food, which can impact their growth, weight, nutritional intake, and overall health. Due to ARFID, teens often do not get enough of the necessary nutrients. Some teens with ARFID also feel stressed about eating, especially in social scenarios.
In most cases, teens with this disorder restrict or avoid food for different reasons, including:
- Lack of interest in eating
- Low appetite
- Sensory sensitivity to the act of eating or food textures, smells, and tastes.
- Fear of bad things happening like choking, vomiting, or pain while eating.
Teens with ARFID differ from individuals with other eating disorders because they aren’t restricting or avoiding food to achieve weight loss. Some teens develop the disorder early in childhood, while others may develop it following a negative food experience. ARFID may carry over through adulthood without the proper professional and parental support.
Tips to Support Your Teen with ARFID
Parents can play an essential role in helping teens overcome and heal from ARFID. Here are some tips to guide you:
- Be a positive role model when it comes to eating a variety of food items.
- Schedule regular meals and snacks to enjoy together.
- Promote a positive, loving environment when eating family meals.
- Encourage your teen to try new food items but avoid forcing them to eat.
- Reward healthy eating behaviors.
- Explore methods to help your teen manage anxiety about eating, such as meditation, yoga, music, or journaling.
One of the most impactful ways you can help your teen with ARFID is to seek an experienced therapist. A qualified counselor can provide a safe, therapeutic environment to guide and support the teen to recovery.
Find Counseling for Teens Living with ARFID at Positive Living Psychotherapy
Positive Living can help your teen through compassionate counseling. We specialize in helping adolescents and adults with identifying emotions, thought patterns, and behaviors that are holding them back in life.
To schedule counseling for teens dealing with avoidant restrictive food intake disorder, connect with us online now or call 770.552.0333 for a free phone consultation.