ARFID, Neurodivergence and You

ARFID stands for Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. While ARFID is often given as a diagnosis to people with an extreme aversion to foods, often resulting in clear negative health consequences. The lower end of the spectrum of ARFID can have subtle consequences.

Why We Might Be Avoidant

There are a few common reasons why we might avoid foods. Some avoidances can be overcome with desensitisation and frequent exposure, some cannot. By identifying why you might be avoiding certain foods, you can identify more easily the foods that it is worth putting effort into aclamitising, and desensitising, and which foods to accept won’t be a part of your diet.

Sensory Nope

Sensory includes texture, taste, smell, temperature, disgust and the more ellusive “feel”. Any of these can shift a perfectly good food into the “nope” category and we reject it.

We evolved to ensure that foods we consumed were good for us. Food can be bad for a number of reasons, such as it not being food, good food has gone off, or something about the food is toxic to us. This makes sense – most of us don’t like the feel of sand in our food, the way that it grits in our teeth and grinds as we try to chew. Our instinctive response is to spit the food out, because it contains something bad. We may then be put off that entire portion of the dish to avoid that feeling of sand between our teeth.

Another example is certains tastes, such as bitter. We evolved to avoid bitter foods when we are young as most plants that are poisonous taste bitter food. Some people are more sensitive to bitter foods and we have a biological rejection of them even into adulthood.

If a safe food is too bitter, or unexpectedly bitter when it usually is sweet, we might reject it.

Some people, such as Autistic People, or Super Sensors, have a more extreme sensory taste and smell sensitivity precetion that neurotypical people. This can mean that there are certain sensory experiences you have to certain foods that trigger the “nope” response. Often super tasters and super smellers will prefer what most people consider to be a bland diet.

Food phobias are irrational fear, disgust or anger emotional reactions to certain aspects of food. Sometimes a phobia can be triggered by a real life experience, but more often it is an inherrited biological trait.

When phobias are hereditary, you will often find a first or second stage blood relative who also has a phobia. First stage is 1 link out, such as parents, child or sibling. A second stage is two links out, such as a cousing, aunt/uncle, grand parent or grand child. Their phobia may not be the same as what you are experiencing, nor even food related, but it will most likely be similar.

Here is a list of some particular named phobias. If the phobic reaction you have is not listed, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a real phobia, it just may not be common enough to either be on the list or named.

  • Acerophobia- Fear of sourness
  • Alektorophobia- Fear of chicken
  • Alliumphobia- Fear of garlic
  • Bacillophobia- Fear of microbes
  • Bacteriophobia- Fear of bacteria
  • Botanophobia- Fear of plants
  • Carnophobia- Fear of meat
  • Cibophobia- Fear of food
  • Consecotaleophobia- Fear of chopsticks
  • Coprastasophobia- Fear of constipation
  • Defecaloesiphobia- Fear of painful bowels movements
  • Deipnophobia- Fear of dining or dinner conversations
  • Dipsophobia- Fear of drinking
  • Emetophoia- Fear of vomiting
  • Frigophobia- Fear of cold things
  • Geumophobia- Fear of taste
  • Hematophobia- Fear of blood
  • Hydrophobia- Fear of water
  • Hygrophobia- Fear of liquids
  • Ichthyophobia- Fear of fish
  • Iophobia- Fear of poison
  • Lachanophobia- Fear of vegetables
  • Mageirocophobia- Fear of cooking
  • Methyphobia- Fear of alcohol
  • Mycophobia- Fear of mushrooms
  • Necrophobia- Fear of dead things
  • Obesophobia- Fear of gaining weight
  • Oenophobia- Fear of wine
  • Olfactophobia- Fear of smells
  • Ornithophobia- Fear of birds
  • Ostraconophobia- Fear of shellfish
  • Osmophobia- Fear of odors
  • Phagophobia- Fear of swallowing
  • Pnigophobia- Fear of choking
  • Rhypophobia- Fear of defecation
  • Sitophobia- Fear of eating
  • Teniophobia- Fear of tapeworms
  • Thermophobia- Fear of hot things
  • Toxophobia- Fear of being accidentally poisoned
  • Urophobia- Fear of urine or urinating
  • Verminophobia- Fear of germs
  • Xanthophobia- Fear of the color yellow
  • Xerophobia- Fear of dryness

Out of Spoons

Spoon Theory is the basic idea that doing things costs energy, and we simplify tracking that energy via discreet Spoons. Some tasks cost us more spoons than for average people, and so are considered expensive.

At the end of the day, after we have finished school, or come home from work, or struggled with being awake and conscious for 8 or so hours, we can be quite low on neurotransmitters; aka spoons.

First of all, you are waiting until you are out of sounds to choose what to make and out of neuro transmitter to solve how to make it. To fix that, make a choice and look up a recipe earlier in the day.

Second, make things easier, not harder. Yes, cutting up your own veggies is cheaper, but if they were precut, you may be more likely to use them. In this spirit, aim for quick and easy meals that are still mostly home made, tasty and nutritious.

Third, are you struggling with mild ARFID? The AuDHD version is fast, sugar, carbohydrate, protein and salt over most other foods. Fruit and vegetables are far less desirable, as they rarely prompt dopamine and are also inconsistent. This requires more speciality help.

Fourth, don’t push “nope” food into yourself. “Nope” foods are the odd food that your brain just says “nope” to.
Mine is creamed corn. I love every other kind of corn, but I can’t do creamed corn. *Shrug*

Lastly: reheats are love. If you can cook a decent lunch, cook extra and have that for tomorrow night’s dinner.

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