Chewing and Spitting Disorder: Signs and Symptoms

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Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Director of Content and Social Media at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

While countless of individuals struggle with a clinically diagnosed eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorder, many more deal with some form of disordered eating.

This can be any type of abnormal eating behaviors, many which often perpetuate a chaotic relationship with food and body. One form of disordered eating is Chewing and Spitting, which can be exhibited by a person with a diagnosed eating disorder or simply as an abnormal eating behavior.

Characteristics of Chewing and Spitting

A person dealing with chewing and spitting behaviors will want to taste and chew a food without actually consuming the food item. This may be the result of having foods that are labeled as “bad”, or feeling guilty for eating certain food items. The individual will chew the food that is perceived as “bad” for some time before spitting out, allowing them to ultimately avoid consuming the food item.

This type of behavior can become addictive, and a person who repeatedly chews and spits out their food can begin to suffer dangerous health consequences. Chewing and spitting out food bypasses the normal digestive process, which can lead to inadequate nutrition. The process of chewing food itself signals the beginning of the digestive process, but the lack of food through the body can cause major disruptions. This can ultimately lead to an inability to regulate and respond to natural hunger and fullness feeding cues.

Getting to the Bottom of the Issue

Girl in grassEven if there is not a clinically diagnosed eating disorder present alongside chewing and spitting, this disordered eating behavior should not be ignored. Disordered eating often signifies more troubling issues at hand, such as anxiety or depression. Any time there is a chaotic relationship with food, it is important to get the necessary help to address the potential complications that might also be present.

If you or someone you care for may be involved with chewing and spitting behaviors, consider seeking out the help and counsel or an eating disorder specialist to explore these behaviors and to prevent worsening symptoms from resulting.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What do you think are some of the misconceptions about chewing and spitting behaviors?

Crystal Headshot 2About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on July 17, 2016
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