If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking. ~Buddhist Saying
This week marks my older son’s sixth week of therapy for Avoidant/t/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) at LPCH at Stanford and a monumental one as he did something he had never done before: he tried a piece of watermelon! Not only did he taste the watermelon, but he also didn’t choke, gag or vomit after he tried it. As part of his “homework”, he has been taking a nibble of watermelon each evening before dinner, without complaint.
I’m am thrilled at his progress; he, on the other hand, shrugs it off nonchalantly. My husband is impressed with his progress, and my younger son is delighted because watermelon is his absolute favorite.
In addition to watermelon, he tried almonds, spinach, and oatmeal – all foods that he never would have tried before we started therapy for ARFID.
My nearly 17-year old son has always had a lack of interest in food and his “picky” eating became worse as each passed. He had fears of choking and vomiting, and he constantly complained about an upset stomach or feeling full and would miss days of school due to stomach cramps. My gut feeling is that his ARFID is related to his Lyme diagnosis.
Last summer we started neurotherapy to help with my son’s brain fog and lack of focus; we saw tremendous improvement: increased concentration, less anxiety and decreased obsessive-compulsive tendencies, however, trying new foods was still an issue. Although he was able to sit with us at dinner and not be affected by the smell of the food being served, he still wouldn’t eat the same foods we were eating, instead, staying with his “safe” foods.
I was relieved when my son was accepted as an outpatient patient in the Eating Disorder Clinic and hoped this would be the answer to his eating challenges. My husband was a bit more skeptical but here we are, six weeks later and our son has gone from refusing to try any new food to trying four foods. The ARFID therapy, coupled with neurotherapy seems to be working: his fear and rigidity around food are diminishing, he has less anxiety about what he can or cannot eat.
These small successes are monumental and provide me with a respite from the anger, frustration, and helplessness, the roller coaster of emotions, courtesy of Lyme and ARFID. Each success, no matter the size, is a reason to celebrate and be grateful.
The path to my son’s recovery from ARFID is a long one. A small bite of watermelon means we are making bigger steps in the right direction.