Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder is an eating disorder in which the body is denied the nutrients that it needs to function properly. As a result, all bodily functions slow down in order to conserve energy and can lead to serious medical problems. Although adults suffer from ARFID, the condition is most prevalent teens. For this reason, ARFID treatment is critically important and Eating Disorder Solutions provides comprehensive treatment in Dallas, Texas.
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Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) Treatment at Eating Disorder Solutions
The unique nature and prevalence of ARFID requires a specialized approach to treatment. Since the condition develops differently in each individual, the treatment should be truly customized according to your needs or the needs of a loved one. That’s exactly what we do at Eating Disorder Solutions. We believe in holistic, client-centered care that addresses not only the physical damage, but also the emotional and mental damage related to ARFID.
In order to achieve that, we get to know each client on a personal level. Our compassionate team of licensed specialists are dedicated to offering support and guidance through every step of ARFID treatment. From residential care to outpatient support, our goal is to ensure that individuals are stable and healthy before they leave our treatment center. We even prepare individuals and their families for maintaining healthy nutrition to prevent relapse.
What Is ARFID?
Previously referred to as selective eating disorder, avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder has been recognized as an eating disorder by the American Psychiatric Association. It lists the condition in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The DSM includes classifications, diagnostic criteria and treatment guidance for various mental and behavioral health disorders.
Compared to other eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia and binge eating, ARFID doesn’t involve a desire to improve body image or lose weight. Individuals with this condition don’t follow eating rituals for any reason. Instead, they feel the need to avoid or restrict specific foods or all foods to the point that it damages their health. Some individuals don’t eat foods of certain colors, textures or types because they relate them to traumatic incidents. For others, ARFID involves the eating process in general.
As a result, individuals who suffer from ARFID don’t get enough nutrition to meet their body’s needs. Along with nutrient deficiencies, they could lose weight and develop a fatal electrolyte imbalance or other serious health issues. Therefore, it’s essential that they get ARFID treatment as soon as possible.
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Residential and Outpatient ARFID Treatment Programs
Providing 24-hour guidance and support, Eating Disorder Solutions is one of the few treatment centers that offers residential care for adults over 18. This program takes individuals out of the environments that influence avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder. In the meantime, they live at our facility so that they can focus on self-growth and healing.
After residential ARFID treatment, individuals can enroll in our partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient program. The PHP includes treatment at our facility for five or six days each week. The IOP includes four days of treatment every week. We design these programs to provide ongoing care as individuals adjust to living outside of our facility. The programs allow them to focus on healthy living and preventing the recurrence of old eating habits. While some clients only need IOP, others may need both to ease their way into normal, everyday life.
Nutrition Education and Therapy
In all of our ARFID treatment programs, nutrition is of the utmost importance. ARFID usually involves nutrient deficiencies that need to be corrected. Our registered dietitian creates a personalized meal plan for each client to provide the most nutritional benefits possible. This meal plan takes into consideration his or her allergies, intolerances and any medical complications.
Our registered dietitian also works with individuals to help them develop better food relationships without distorted or negative thoughts. During therapeutic sessions, they educate about nutrition and what we need to be healthy and function correctly. In addition, the objective of nutrition therapy is to normalize eating patterns by teaching individuals how to listen and trust their internal hunger and fullness cues.
Individual, Group and Family Therapy
Based on client needs, Eating Disorder Solutions can determine which counseling methods promote the most healing during ARFID treatment. These methods may be used in individual or group settings.
Exposure therapy is one that involves addressing the thought processes and anxiety that occur with avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder. It involves working through a hierarchy of foods that individuals fear. The work starts with the least fear-provoking items and gradually moves to the most fear-provoking items. We use verbal, visual and writing techniques during this process.
During ARFID treatment, we also use cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. In CBT, individuals learn how to change their thought patterns and practice coping skills. In DBT, they learn distress tolerance and mindfulness.
Furthermore, we get family members involved in the treatment process. This is important because they need to understand ARFID and how to support their loved one during recovery. Our family program provides the education that they need.
ARFID Signs & Symptoms
Most of the time, it’s up to family members to notice the signs and help loved ones get ARFID treatment. In general, the condition is characterized by disordered eating and a failure to meet the appropriate nutritional requirements and weight. The disordered eating might involve refusing to eat certain foods out of fear of getting sick or choking or because of their smell, color or texture. Some individuals simply have no interest in eating.
Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder might start as picky eating or having a limited list of preferred foods. Over time, individuals get more rigid and selective with their food choices. They might even become distressed by eating with others, which interferes with their school, work and social lives.
It’s crucial for individuals to get ARFID treatment when they suffer dramatic weight loss, have consistent gastrointestinal problems around mealtimes and dramatically restrict their food choices. ARFID treatment is vital if they experience fainting, dizziness, trouble concentrating, difficulty sleeping and muscle weakness. They might also get sick often because ARFID tends to weaken the immune system.
What Causes ARFID?
There’s no single cause of avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder. Instead, a variety of biological, environmental and psychosocial factors contribute to the condition. For instance, individuals whose family members have suffered from eating disorders could be predisposed to ARFID. The condition might be triggered by a traumatic event or other psychosocial or environmental situation.
Individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities have a higher risk for ARFID too. Various co-occurring conditions may be underlying causes as well, such as anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
ARFID Diagnosis at Our Treatment Center
In order to confirm whether ARFID treatment is necessary, individuals must see medical professionals for proper diagnosis. Doctors and psychiatrists use the criteria outlined in the DSM-5 to diagnose avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder. There must be a feeding or eating disturbance, and it can’t be related to a cultural practice, lack of food availability or medical condition. The eating disturbance also can’t exclusively occur at the same time as anorexia or bulimia.
At Eating Disorder Solutions in Dallas, Texas, we perform thorough medical and mental health assessments to diagnose or confirm cases of ARFID. Then, we develop tailored ARFID treatment plans that restore the nutrients that individuals need and address the underlying causes of the disorder. We’re fully prepared to support the healing process and a successful recovery. Contact us today for more information about our client tailored treatment programs.