ARFID Treatment in Orange County

Avoidant / Restrictive Food Intake Disorder Treatment

Seek help at Capo Canyon Recovery. Our expert team can help you or your loved one heal from ARFID.

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder or ARFID is a complex and very serious eating disorder characterized by an inability to meet nutritional needs due to an avoidance of certain foods. Unlike other eating disorders, ARFID isn’t the result of body image, but a range of other factors such as sensory sensitivity, fear of choking, or a lack of interest in food. It can eventually lead to significant physical and psychological health issues, including malnutrition, weight loss, and more.

Getting a better understanding of ARFID is critical to addressing the condition of those affected daily. With appropriate treatment, individuals with ARFID can learn to overcome their food-related fears and develop healthier eating habits. In this post, we’re going to explore the various treatment options viable for ARFID, including behavioral interventions, nutritional counseling, psychotherapy, and the importance of support systems. We hope that these strategies help provide a clearer road to recovery for those struggling with this challenging disorder.

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A Closer Look at Avoidant / Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

ARFID is a fairly new official addition to the spectrum of eating disorders, having been officially recognized in the DSM-V. ARFID is indicated by an extreme avoidance of certain foods or a limited intake that leads to nutritional deficiencies, weight loss, or an inability to gain weight. Individuals with ARFID may also experience significant interference with their social functioning due to their eating habits.

Notable Symptoms of ARFID:

  • Avoiding food based on color, texture, 
  • Fear of choking, vomiting, or other adverse reactions to eating
  • Limited variety in the diet leading to nutritional deficiencies
  • Anxiety or distress around meal times
  • Reluctance to eat in social settings


While ARFID shares some characteristics with other food-related disorders, such as restrictive eating patterns, it is distinct in several key ways. Unlike bulimia or anorexia, ARFID is not motivated by issues with self-image. 

Instead, the avoidance is often related to sensory sensitivities, a traumatic experience related to eating, or a general lack of interest in food. This distinction is crucial for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.

24/7 Help – 100% Confidential Call (866) 460-5191

The staff here has changed my life. I will never forget everything they all have done but I will never forget how much the nurse Jeanie helped me. The therapist there is also amazing and I wouldn't be who I am today if it weren't for them. I recommend this place to everyone I know who is struggling.



I loved Capo Canyon Recovery! The staff was amazing and compassionate at every turn. The house was beyond fantastic! The backyard was my favorite place to hangout, there were tiny lizards, hummingbirds, and butterflies galore.

Jo W.


If you’ve ever been to treatment and found yourself at capo canyon it would be readily apparent that this place is different from any treatment center in the United States. Nobody arrives at a detox/stabilization program in their best shape but what sets capo canyon apart is the care and compassion the on-site nurses and all the staff show.

Brandon T.


Truly life saving!! Care and compassion during a very difficult time. The staff and counselors are amazing and the program works. So grateful to the entire Capo family!



This place saved my life. All the staff are super welcoming and knowledgeable and sincerely cares for each individual and their well being. By far the best and most comfortable detox facility I have been to. Forever grateful for this place!

L. S.


Our daughter has been at Casa for 90 days and has been in previous rehab centers. At Casa she has made amazing progress and she has been a some what difficult case to deal with. We have had an open line of communication with the Center and they have been tremendously helpful not only with our daughter but supporting us along the way. I would recommend Casa for anyone needing professional help in various areas.

Jane B.


Myths & Misconceptions About ARFID

Several things need to be clarified about ARFID that can hinder understanding and treatment. Here are some common ones

Myth: ARFID is just picky eating.

Reality: While picky eating is not uncommon in children, ARFID involves a more severe and persistent pattern that impacts physical health and daily functioning.

Myth: ARFID will be outgrown with time.

Reality: Without effective treatment, ARFID can persist into adulthood and lead to serious health complications.

Myth: ARFID is not as serious as other eating disorders.

Reality: ARFID can lead to significant nutritional deficiencies, growth problems, and psychological distress, requiring professional intervention.

How ARFID is Diagnosed

Official diagnosis of ARFID requires a thorough evaluation by healthcare professionals who specialize in eating disorders. An accurate diagnosis is essential for developing an effective treatment plan tailored to the individual’s needs and challenges.

The criteria for being diagnosed are specifically outlined in the DSM-V:

  • Persistent eating or feeding disturbance: This includes significant avoidance of certain foods or food groups, leading to an inability to meet appropriate nutritional or energy needs.
  • Associated symptoms: The eating disturbance must be associated with significant weight loss (or failure to achieve expected weight gain in children), nutritional deficiency, and dependence on supplements.
  • Exclusion of other conditions: The eating disturbance is not better explained by a lack of available food, a culturally sanctioned practice, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or a concurrent medical condition.

Treatment Approaches for Avoidant / Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

ARFID treatment involves a comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach. Effective treatment addresses both the psychological and nutritional aspects of the disorder, helping individuals combat their food-related fears and establish healthy eating patterns.

Behavioral Interventions

These interventions often focus on gradually exposing individuals to feared foods in a controlled and supportive environment. Exposure therapy helps desensitize patients to the sensory characteristics of the foods they avoid, reducing anxiety and increasing their comfort with a wider variety of foods. 

Nutritional Counseling

Nutritional counseling plays a vital role in ARFID treatment. Dietitians work with patients to develop balanced meal plans that address nutritional deficiencies and promote overall health. They educate individuals about the importance of a varied diet and provide practical strategies for incorporating new foods into their meals. 

Role of Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is essential for addressing the underlying psychological factors contributing to ARFID. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the most effective approaches, helping individuals overcome the negative thoughts and beliefs that drive their avoidance behaviors.

Nutritional Rehabilitation

Nutritional rehabilitation is a critical component of ARFID treatment, aimed at restoring the patient’s nutritional health and establishing a balanced diet. A balanced diet is essential for physical and mental well-being. Ensuring an adequate intake of vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients is crucial for overall health, growth, and development.

Psychotherapy and Behavioral Strategies

Psychotherapy and behavioral strategies are essential components in the treatment of avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the most effective forms of psychotherapy for ARFID. CBT helps individuals understand the negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to their avoidance of certain foods.

Exposure therapy is another critical behavioral strategy used in treating ARFID. This method involves the systematic and gradual introduction of avoided foods, helping individuals to become more comfortable with a variety of foods and textures. The exposure is often paired with relaxation techniques to help manage the anxiety that arises during the process.

Developing healthy eating habits is a crucial goal of ARFID treatment. This includes establishing regular meal patterns and learning to listen to hunger and fullness cues. Psychotherapy and behavioral strategies provide a foundation for overcoming the psychological barriers to healthy eating. 

Medical Interventions

While psychotherapy and behavioral strategies are central to avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder treatment, medical interventions may be necessary in certain cases. In some cases, medication might be prescribed to help manage anxiety or other co-occurring mental health conditions that exacerbate ARFID symptoms. 

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors can be used to treat anxiety or obsessive-compulsive behaviors that contribute to food avoidance. Medical interventions also include the use of nutritional supplements or enteral feeding in severe cases where oral intake is insufficient to meet nutritional needs.

Support Systems & Additional Resources

Support from family, friends, and healthcare professionals can significantly enhance the effectiveness of treatment and provide the emotional backing needed to overcome challenges.

Family support is particularly important, especially for children and adolescents. Parents and caregivers play a crucial role in creating a supportive and structured environment that encourages healthy eating behaviors. Family therapy can help improve communication and understanding within the family unit, ensuring that everyone is aligned in supporting the individual’s recovery journey.

Community resources can also provide valuable support. Local support groups offer a space for individuals and their families to share experiences, gain insights, and find encouragement from others facing similar challenges.

24/7 Help – 100% Confidential Call (866) 460-5191

Trust Capo Canyon for Avoidant / Restrictive Food Intake Disorder Treatment

Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder treatment is an incredibly challenging condition that requires a multifaceted approach to treatment. Understanding the disorder and recognizing the symptoms are the first steps toward seeking help. If you or someone you care about may be battling ARFID, contact Capo Canyon today to get started on a successful, long-term recovery.