Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) involves ongoing feeding or eating issues that can cause tamariki to avoid food. It's more than just ‘picky eating’, which is common among tamariki. Tamariki with ARFID eat only a small range or amount of food. They often have an extreme dislike of certain foods or are generally not interested in food or eating.
Tamariki with ARFID might restrict their food intake for a few different reasons. ARFID can look very different from 1 child to another. There can be more than 1 reason for avoiding food.
Some tamariki are very sensitive to how food feels, smells, tastes or looks. This is more extreme than just disliking certain foods. Their deep dislike of the sensation of food causes them to avoid eating.
Fear of consequences
Some tamariki may avoid eating because they are worried about what will happen when they do. This could be a fear of things like vomiting, choking or pain. They might deal with this by avoiding certain foods and only eating foods they think are ‘safe’.
Lack of interest in food
Some tamariki don’t feel as hungry as others, or they have a ‘low appetite’. These tamariki may see eating as a chore. This can lead to them not eating enough food to stay well.