How Can Hypnosis Support ARFID?
Although ARFID (Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder) is a relatively new diagnosis for picky eaters with food phobia, ARFID is now seen in approximately 13-23% of new eating disorder cases. It’s characterized by a persistent disturbance in eating leading to weight loss or growth disturbances, nutrient deficiencies, dependence on supplements, and impaired psychosocial functioning with the hallmark characteristic being a fear of food or anxiety around food. ARFID may occur in isolation but has a greater likelihood of occurring in comorbidity than other feeding disorders. This can include anxiety, Autism Spectrum Disorder, a learning disorder, or a mood disorder.
People with ARFID tend to internally know that the rules they have about food are irrational. For example, a person with ARFID may be able to eat a plain piece of bread or peanut butter individually. But there is a voice in their head telling them that eating bread that is toasted is dangerous or unsafe. Or perhaps that eating bread with peanut butter ON it, is not a safe food. While the person understands this is irrational, it is impossible for them to not feel a sense of dread or extreme panic when trying these “unsafe” foods.
People with ARFID generally report a fear of vomiting and/or choking and extreme aversions to a certain food or texture. They are often fighting with their own minds and it’s a constant power struggle. So, how can hypnosis help?
Techniques such as hypnosis can help guide the individual to achieve their goal, typically in a much quicker time frame – it can help calm or quiet the voice in their head that creates and makes them believe in these irrational food rules. This can help support the battle in their mind about eating certain foods so they can peacefully taste and try new foods without panic or anxiety. While hypnosis can have many positive effects for the person (and family!) with ARFID, it’s important to remember that hypnosis is not a magic bullet. The person with ARFID may still need other treatment or interventions after completion of hypnosis sessions to help them progress.
What hypnosis CAN do:
- Help guide you to achieve things you already want to do
- Give you confidence and strength to meet your goals
- Help push you in the direction you already want to go
- Make you open and willing to taste and try foods
- Help calm your anxiety regarding trying new foods
What hypnosis CANNOT do:
- Make you do anything you don’t already want to do
- Change your brain or how it works
- Hurt or harm you in any way
- Make you get “stuck: in a trance like state
- Put thoughts in your brain that you do not wish to be there
- Make you like foods that you do not like
Who are the best candidates for hypnosis? People who truly want to change! Hypnosis will only work for people who have a deep intrinsic desire for change in their lives. It will not work, for example, on a child who wants to change because his or her parents want them to eat.
If you have questions, please reach out to Kelly at Infinity Hypnosis. Kelly is an SLP who specializes in ARFID and helps her clients overcome a variety of feeding difficulties. Kelly can answer your questions over a free phone consultation or, you can join one of her free Zoom sessions where she discusses ARFID, how hypnosis works, and how hypnosis may be able to help you or your loved one. Contact Kelly and Infinity Hypnosis at [email protected] or check out her website at https://infinityhypnosis.com/ to book a free consultation or to find out when her next upcoming Zoom session will be!
Fisher, M. M., Rosen, D. S., Ornstein, R. M., Mammel, K. A., Katzman, D. K., Rome, E. S., … & Walsh, B. T. (2014). Characteristics of avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder in children and adolescents: a “new disorder” in DSM-5. Journal of Adolescent Health, 55(1), 49-52.
Nicely, T. A., Lane-Loney, S., Masciulli, E., Hollenbeak, C. S., & Ornstein, R. M. (2014). Prevalence and characteristics of avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder in a cohort of young patients in day treatment for eating disorders. Journal of eating disorders, 2(1), 1.