“Can I change?” is a very common and complicated question. The answer is different for everyone and it may help to think about what sort of changes are possible and desirable. A positive change could range from becoming more comfortable being in social dining situations to actually introducing new foods to your list.
While there is no cure for ARFID, you can learn to more effectively manage. You can make progress. Some people have made a lot. It may not be easy, it may take time, but positive changes can be made. Many have found it difficult to add new foods but have been able to manage quite well.
Of course, there are many “treatments” available. There are numerous methods and protocols designed to help people with anxiety and food issues but none that are clinically proven for ARFID. Part of that is that there have been no studies yet. From anecdotal evidence we see a lot of treatment that seems to make little or no progress. One difficult issue is balancing spending money and time on potentially frustrating, ineffective or slow treatments with wanting to do whatever we can to make progress. These are never easy issues. Fortunately as more medical professionals become aware of ARFID the more likely we are to have effective strategies. Here is a description of one possible treatment called exposure therapy. I don’t know if it is effective but it seems to come up along with hypnotherapy as a common approach. I believe those two approaches share the goal of gradually reshaping your reactions to certain foods.
Where are the ARFIDers Who’ve Made Significant Progress?
This is a bit perplexing. In looking around, you don’t find many who talk about successes they’ve had overcoming ARFID. There is some thought that it is unlikely for people to be able to make significant changes. Yet, as someone who has made significant changes I know it is possible. But it is difficult. Everyone and every case is different and I don’t want to offer false hope. My two theories on this:
ARFID sufferers are all distinct and how the condition develops is unique for each person despite some similarities in symptoms. So what works for one person may not work the same for others. Or it may need to be modified or it could take more time.
ARFID is a solitary syndrome. We don’t talk about it and we think we’re the only one who has it. So it’s possible that those who have felt they’ve controlled their ARFID aren’t looking around to share their story because they don’t think anyone would care and we want to move on and not bring attention to it.
This is just my speculation.
People Who’ve Had Some Success Treating ARFID
(the recovery thread is a very cool journey through one boy’s and family’s success)
(not much detail on this link but a hopeful story)
(this is a clinical, but not overly detailed, description of one girl who has had success)
Because this is such a new designation for therapists and researchers there are not a lot of centers devoted specifically to ARFID treatment. The number will surely grow. If you know of more let me know.
Note: in the “other potential centers” I’m not sure all of these places have ARFID programs. But this link is dedicated to Eating Disorder Centers that treat both men and women, which means the likelihood of treating ARFID could be greater because these centers are not just focused on Aneorexia and Bulimia.