Reddit is Split About This Parent's Request to Bring Special Food to Family Meals For Her Kid

Dealing with picky eating is something of a parental rite of passage. Sometimes, however, when a child is absolutely refusing to eat or having a breakdown at the thought of eating something unfamiliar, there is something more going on. A parent whose child has ARFID — Avoidant/Resistant Food Intake Disorder — took to Reddit’s AITA to ask if they were in the wrong for making accommodations for their son so he could enjoy eating in public with his family.

For those unfamiliar, ARFID goes beyond simply not wanting to eat certain foods. Previously known as “Selective Eating Disorder,” ARFID is an “eating or feeding disturbance (e.g., apparent lack of interest in eating or food; avoidance based on the sensory characteristics of food; concern about aversive consequences of eating) as manifested by persistent failure to meet appropriate nutritional and/or energy needs,” per the DSM-5.

ARFID is an eating disorder that more often affects boys than girls, and unlike other eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia, body image is not one of the main culprit behind the condition. It is more about the texture of the food, previous negative experiences with the food in question, and other sensory conditions. ARFID can lead to significant weight loss, nutritional deficiency, and — as the OP noted — marked interference with social functioning.

“My son is 9 and has ARFID. We are working with many therapists in all areas but it’s slow developing. He has very few safe foods and they are all super processed ‘junk’ food. He used to have more foods, but when it changes/tastes different he will no longer eat it. He ate one sour grape seven years ago and still cries at the thought of eating another — it’s bad,” the parent explained.

“Anywho, we used to have family meals with my wife’s extended family relatively often – a few times a month, maybe. We stopped when we realized eating in groups was making our son worse.”

As stressful as the condition is, the parents have been working with their son to make him feel more comfortable eating in public. “Recently we have had a huge milestone, meaning he can eat in public again — he’s super excited about it, and we’ve eaten out a few times since. McDonald’s, mostly, but he’s still in public.” Hey, a small victory is still a victory!

Related story

This Pregnant Mom Accidentally Let Her Toddler Watch Her iPad All Night & Reddit Gave Her the Sweetest Encouragement