Avoidant/ restrictive food intake disorder or ARFID for short can affect anyone at any age, but it is most common in children. This can lead to parental anxieties when trying to navigate this complex eating disorder.

As a parent of a child with ARFID, it can be exhausting and worrisome trying to ensure your child gets the nutrition they need to grow up big and strong. Some parents also report feeling judged that they cannot get their child to eat a varied diet, fearing that others will take this as a reflection of their parenting in some way.

You are not alone.

It is important to remember that ARFID is not just ‘picky eating’ or tantrums at the dinner table, it is a complex eating disorder that with the right help and support, can get better with time.

The Eating Disorder Service (TEDS) based at Solar, is a partnership between BSMHFT, Barnardo’s and Autism West Midlands. It provides emotional wellbeing and mental health services to children, young people and families in Solihull.

While there is still more research needed to understand how we can treat ARFID, our TEDS team can support by:

  • Providing psychoeducational sessions with parents and children, exposing them to new foods and understanding the root cause as to why they are avoiding certain foods
  • Checking a patient’s blood, height and weight to assess if they have any nutritional deficiencies and prescribing multivitamins and other supplements where needed
  • Other family-based approaches such as creating tailored strategies to help parents during triggering scenarios like family mealtimes, school dinners or going out to a restaurant.

BEAT, the UK’s national eating disorder charity is running a virtual carer support group for parents/ carers of young people aged 5-15 who is presenting with ARFID behaviours. ‘Endeavour’ is an eight-week programme that gives carers a safe space to share their emotions and talk about how to manage a young person’s ARFID behaviours. Find out more on their website.