Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder — Information from AboutKidsHealth

In support of Eating Disorders Awareness Week, AboutKidsHealth has shared important information on the signs and symptoms of avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID). For more information on eating disorders, visit our Mental Health learning hub.

Children with ARFID eat very little food or avoid certain foods for a range of reasons — including concerns about food texture or not feeling well when eating — resulting in lack of energy and essential nutrients.

ARFID can result in significant weight loss or a failure to gain weight; however, people with ARFID do not have body image concerns or fears about gaining weight like those with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.

Before diagnosing ARFID, doctors should assess children for physical disorders and other mental conditions that can have similar signs and symptoms.

Behavioural signs of ARFID include:

  • sudden refusal to eat foods

  • fear of choking or vomiting

  • no appetite for no known reason

  • very slow eating

  • difficulty eating meals with family or friends.

Physical signs of ARFID include:

  • no longer gaining weight

  • losing weight

  • no growth or delayed growth.

To learn more about how avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder is diagnosed and what you can do to help your child, check out these articles:

AboutKidsHealth is SickKids' health education website, which offers more than 3,500 articles, illustrations and videos on a range of paediatric health topics. For more information on eating disorders and other health topics, visit aboutkidshealth.ca.