Shedding Light on the Shadows of Eating Disorders: A Closer Look at ARFID with Therapy Partners on ITN Meridian

In an insightful interview with ITN Meridian on Friday, 8th March, Michelle offered a comprehensive look into Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), a condition not as widely known as other eating disorders but significantly impactful on those it affects. Here's a detailed exploration of the topics discussed, shedding light on ARFID, its effects, and the support available locally for those living with this disorder.


Understanding ARFID 

ARFID is far from the common perception of picky eating; it is a complex psychological condition with a profound impact on individuals' relationships with food. Characterized by an extreme aversion to certain foods based on taste, texture, or colour, ARFID can lead to significant nutritional deficiencies and impair social functioning. Michelle emphasised that while ARFID could affect anyone, it's notably prevalent in children and adolescents and often coexists with conditions such as anxiety, autism, and ADHD. 

This disorder's complexity is underscored by its recognition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), highlighting the need for specialised care and attention. Unlike anorexia or bulimia, ARFID isn't driven by body image concerns but often results from sensory issues, fear stemming from distressing experiences with food, or a lack of interest in eating. Symptoms vary widely but can include feeling full quickly, sensitivity to food properties, and a highly restrictive diet.


Impact of ARFID

The ramifications of ARFID on individuals are profound. Beyond nutritional deficiencies and weight concerns, it can cause social isolation and emotional distress, deeply affecting daily life and overall well-being. The stigma attached to unusual eating behaviors only exacerbates these challenges, making it essential to address both the physical and psychological aspects of the disorder.


Available Support 

Despite the obstacles posed by ARFID, there are effective support avenues. Psychotherapy, especially cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), has shown promise in helping individuals expand their food repertoire and address the psychological aspects of their eating difficulties. Nutritional counseling is also critical, ensuring those with ARFID receive the necessary nutrients. However, accessing these resources can be challenging, highlighted by reports of long delays with NHS as  services have seen significant increases in demand sine the covid pandemic. 

The conversation with Michelle not only brings ARFID into the spotlight but also emphasises the critical need for improved understanding, resources, and support for those affected. As awareness grows, so too does the hope for more comprehensive care and a better quality of life for individuals living with ARFID. For more information or support, organizations like the NHS, and  Beat Eating Disorders,  provide valuable resources and guidance.  Therapy Partners and the charity Rewrite your story Eating Disorders Support (PETS) - Rewrite Your Story can offer support and specialist counselling and nutritional support for this condition  

As we continue to navigate the complexities of eating disorders, it's crucial to listen, learn, and support those around us facing these challenges. Michelle's interview serves as a vital step forward in the conversation about ARFID, encouraging empathy, action, and hope for the future.


Information about ARFID: 
  1. NHS  

  2. Beat Eating Disorders: ARFID - Beat ( 

  3. New Maudsley Carers Kent Home - newmaudsleycarers-kent 

  4. ARFID Awareness UK  WHAT IS ARFID? | ARFID Awareness UK 


NHS Support Services in Kent and Medway, UK:

Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust:

  • Contact: 0300 222 0123 (24/7 helpline) 

  • They provide mental health services, including support for eating disorders, in the Kent and Medway area. 

  • KMPT Eating Disorders Service 


Medway Adult Eating Disorders Service:

  • Contact: 01634 673777 

  • This service provides assessment, treatment, and support for adults with eating disorders in the Medway area.