National Eating Disorders Association

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Finding the right help for ARFID

My older sister (34) is suffering from an eating disorder and I am extremely worried about her. She seems to be experiencing something closer to ARFID (avoidant restrictive food intake disorder), as she believes that she cannot swallow. Her intake of solid food is non-existent and even swallowing liquids is difficult for her and takes a very long time. This has been going on for 2 months and has resulted in her weight dropping extremely low.

I can go into all the long stories of ER visits and whatnot - but I am really just hoping that someone here might have experience with ARFID and found help. I have been trying to find a place for her to go, like a residential program (we're in California). Aside from the challenges of payment (she has medi-cal and I have yet to find a place that accepts it), many places focus on anorexia or bulimia. I don't want to take her to a place where they can't help her, because I've already done that by taking her to two different ER's, and each time I feel like she loses trust in her family for taking her there.

Does anyone have any advice for this sort of situation? She just texted me yesterday saying that she feels hopeless and I am trying to stay strong for her. I promised her that I will do everything in my power to find her help. If you have any useful info, please help me keep this promise.

ARFID = Something else besides food ?

Boy, this sounds like a difficult situation alright, and it sounds like your sister is stressed by it too. Plus the idea that her condition is associated with all those ER visits, that sort of mental association can't be helping matters either.

I wish I could tell you what the solution was, as I'm not as up on ARFID as I might be, but from what you've said, it sounds to me like anxiety might be playing a big role in this ?

Like that there are issues that she feels a lot of anxiety about, but those worries have now become displaced, and have become projected onto eating instead ?

So maybe it's not really about food, per sa, but more about anxiety over deeper and more complex issues instead ?

Has she given you any hints about what those issues might be ? While the eating situation is worrisome I know, maybe that's not what's really at the heart of the matter ?

Keep writing ?