Navigating ADHD and ARFID

by | Apr 12, 2024 | ADHD, ARFID, Therapy

Welcome back! Today’s blog is dedicated to crafting wellness for individuals living with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID). In this space, we explore the unique challenges faced by individuals with ADHD and ARFID, and we provide guidance on building personalized treatment plans and care teams to support holistic well-being.

Understanding the Intersection

Living with both ADHD and ARFID can present complex and multifaceted challenges that impact both cognitive and physical health. Individuals may struggle with inconsistent nutrition, difficulty managing distractions from nourishment, blocking beliefs and intrusive thoughts surrounding food, and a lack of support systems tailored to their unique needs.

Crafting a Treatment Plan

Crafting a personalized treatment plan for ADHD and ARFID requires a comprehensive approach that addresses both cognitive and physical aspects of well-being. Here are some key components to consider:

Psychoeducation: Providing psychoeducation on the cognitive and physical consequences of inconsistent nutrition is essential for building awareness and understanding. By learning about the impact of nutrition on brain function and overall health, individuals can make informed choices and prioritize their well-being.

Recovery Plans: Developing recovery plans that focus on gradual exposure to new foods and supportive behaviors is crucial for individuals with ARFID. Working with a therapist or nutritionist who specializes in ARFID can help individuals navigate their relationship with food in a safe and supportive environment.

Supporting Habituation: Supporting habituation of new learned supportive behaviors involves cultivating a supportive environment that encourages experimentation and growth. This may include creating structured meal times, incorporating preferred foods into meals, and practicing relaxation techniques to reduce anxiety around eating.

Managing Distractions: Managing distractions from nourishment requires strategies to minimize external stimuli and create a calm and focused eating environment. This may involve establishing mealtime routines, reducing screen time during meals, and incorporating mindfulness practices to enhance present-moment awareness.

Addressing Blocking Beliefs: Addressing blocking beliefs and intrusive thoughts surrounding food requires cognitive-behavioral interventions aimed at challenging negative beliefs and promoting positive attitudes toward food and eating. Cognitive restructuring techniques and exposure therapy can be effective in shifting perspectives and reducing anxiety.

Building an Effective Care Team

Building an effective care team to address the complex and unique behaviors and symptoms of ADHD and ARFID is essential for comprehensive treatment. This may include:

Therapists: Therapists or counselors with expertise in ADHD, ARFID, and eating disorders can provide individualized support and guidance tailored to each person’s needs.

Dietitians: Dietitians can offer specialized dietary guidance and meal planning support to ensure adequate nutrition while accommodating individual preferences and challenges.

Medical Professionals: Medical professionals, such as primary care physicians or psychiatrists, can provide medication management and monitor physical health concerns related to ADHD and ARFID.

Support Groups: Support groups or online communities can offer validation, encouragement, and practical strategies for coping with ADHD and ARFID. Connecting with others who share similar experiences can reduce feelings of isolation and provide a sense of belonging.

Certified Eating Disorder Coaches: A Certified Eating Disorder Health Coach can provide vital support throughout the recovery journey, offering tailored services to individuals facing disordered eating behaviors and thoughts. From virtual meal and snack support to in-person meal sessions, they can guide clients with exposure therapy, mindfulness practices, and practical skills like cooking and meal preparation. They can ensure cohesive care by collaborating with the treatment team and offer assistance with grocery and clothing shopping to promote self-acceptance and nourishment. Their role can be pivotal in fostering a healthier relationship with food, body, and self.

blueberries in a bowl.

Emphasizing Individualized Care

Above all, it’s essential to recognize that individuals with ADHD and ARFID are unique and may not fit into a one-size-fits-all approach. Emphasizing individualized care that honors each person’s strengths, challenges, and preferences is key to promoting holistic well-being and fostering long-term success on the journey toward wellness. If you’re living with ADHD and ARFID or supporting someone who is, know that you’re not alone. With the right treatment plan and care team in place, it’s possible to cultivate a nourishing and fulfilling life that celebrates the unique strengths and resilience of each individual.

Until next time, don’t forget to take care of yourself. 

– – Cat

Hey there, I´m Cat

This is my little corner of the internet where I share all things about healthy living. I believe in sharing really simple, effective advice to help you improve your health & reach your goals. Combining my certification & experience, I want to help you develop a plan to reach your goals.



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Available for Additional Support

Catherine Alvarado, LMFT is a licensed psychotherapist, Certified EMDR Therapist, and Consultant-in-Training (CIT) in Hermosa Beach, CA. Beyond the pages of self-help blogs, she offers Adjunct EMDR, EMDR Intensives, and Ongoing Support for teens and adults with anxiety disorders, specific phobias, and complex trauma. If you are experiencing distress, contact Cat to schedule a free phone consultation.  

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