A psychologist in Dublin has said treatment for food-related mental illnesses could take as little as 30 minutes.
It comes as a report revealed this week that a teenager in the UK went blind after a diet of chips, Pringles, white bread and processed meat.
Jason O’Callaghan, who specialises in hypnotherapy at a D4 Clinic in Dublin, said that recognition for the disorder is relatively new.
Mr O’Callaghan said that, according to the Bodywhys website, ARFID, the medical term for the disorder, was acknowledged in 2013.
He said: “It may be informally known as Selective Eating Disorder (SED). ARFID may occur during childhood, but it can also develop in adults. Currently, little is known about effective treatments and interventions and the course of illness for individuals who develop ARFID.
“Other unknown factors include the age at which ARFID develops and whether or not it presents as a risk factor for later-onset eating disorders.”
The clinic treats the condition with a mixture of dietetic treatment, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and clinical hypnotherapy.
“We came across this first in 2013 when a young man in his 20s lived on nothing but pizza and chips,” explained Mr O’Callaghan, “After two sessions he was able to eat anything including Indian meals.”
“We then helped a lady who lived on a diet of potato waffles. Again, after one session she started to eat everything”.
Mr O’Callaghan said they had received many calls from worried parents following publication of details regarding the young man in the UK.
Researchers from Bristol Eye Hospital in the south-west of England had said the boy first presented to his doctor aged 14, complaining of tiredness, according to a case report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Aside from being labelled a “fussy eater”, the Bristol boy took no medication and had a normal body mass index (BMI). Tests showed he had low vitamin B12 levels and macrocytic anaemia – a condition bringing larger-than-normal red blood cells.
He was given B12 injections and dietary advice, but when he returned a year later he had developed some hearing loss and impaired vision, though still no cause was found.
“By age 17, the patient’s vision had become progressively worse, to the point of blindness,” the report said.
By the time his condition was diagnosed, the patient had permanently impaired vision
Investigating the boy’s nutrition, physicians found vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiencies, a reduced bone mineral density, low levels of copper and selenium, and a high zinc level.
“The patient confessed that since elementary school, he had avoided foods with certain textures and only ate French fries, Pringles, white bread, processed ham slices, and sausage,” the report said.
Mr O’Callaghan today said: “It is very understandable that parents of a child who is a fussy eater and who refuses to eat things like vegetables etc would be extremely concerned having heard the news about the young lad in the UK but the important message is that there is a cure.”