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Resources to Help Kids Thrive Newsletter

When Picky Eating Gets Unhealthy

A weekly update of content from childmind.org featuring parenting advice, in-depth articles, and the latest thinking on children’s mental health and learning disorders.

December 7, 2021

Whether they’re sitting down to a weekday dinner or a holiday feast, it’s normal for kids to have some foods they just won’t touch. But when picky eating is so extreme that it gets in the way of a child’s physical or mental health, they could be experiencing an eating disorder called ARFID, which stands for “avoidant restrictive food intake disorder.” Kids with ARFID aren’t trying to lose weight. But they restrict their eating for other reasons, like fear of choking or vomiting, or a need to avoid certain flavors, textures or even colors of food.

This week on childmind.org we take a close look at how to recognize and treat ARFID, which can harm kids’ growth, physical health and emotional wellbeing. Picky eating can also be a problem for kids who don’t have ARFID, so we have tips for getting them help and encouraging more adventurous eating. Plus, strategies for supporting kids with autism who are picky eaters.

Related Resources

What Is ARFID?

How to recognize (and treat) avoidant restrictive food intake disorder.


More Than Picky Eating

Treatment can help kids overcome avoidance and build healthy food habits.


How to Help Kids Who Are Picky Eaters

Ways to help them feel good about trying new tastes.


Autism and Picky Eating

Practical tips for addressing rigid eating habits and problem mealtime behaviors.


Fear of Vomiting

Shame and secrecy complicate a phobia that’s common in children.


Family-Based Treatment for Eating Disorders

The parents’ role in helping children return to a healthy weight.