Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Director of Content and Social Media at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope
In the discussion of eating disorders, the main ones that typically come to mind include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder.
However, there are many lesser known eating disorders or forms of disordered eating that are just as significant and complex to work through for those who might be struggling. This includes chewing and spitting disorder, a form of disordered eating that can lead to serious complications if left untreated.
Understanding Chewing and Spitting Disorder
Chewing and spitting disorder is not formally recognized as a diagnosis, though it is a behavior that many individuals engage in. Some people with an eating disorder may chew and spit as part of the disease and abnormal eating behaviors, though a person does not necessarily need to have an eating disorder to demonstrate chewing and spitting.
Simply put, a person who struggles with chewing and spitting disorder most commonly will chew food but not allow themselves to swallow or fully digest the contents of that food. Food is commonly spit out after a period of time chewing. Some individuals engage in this abnormal eating behavior in order to actually taste the food but to not ingest the food itself. Other people become addicted to the act of chewing and can do so for extended periods of time as a means of coping or simply checking out.
Health consequences related to chewing/spitting food include digestive issues, swollen salivary glands, ulcerated stomach, tooth decay, and more.
Supporting a Spouse With Chewing/Spitting Disorder
If your spouse or partner is struggling with chewing and spitting food behaviors, you may find their habits difficult to live with and tolerate. You may find yourselves spending an increased amount of money on food, only to see it wasted on food that is chewed and discarded, and this can bring incredible frustration to your relationship. Engaging in these behaviors can also put a damper on how you interact and communicate socially, and you may feel distanced from your loved one.
If you have found yourself in this position, it is important to communicate your concerns in a gentle and loving way. Professional help is often needed to change these behaviors, and supporting your spouse toward help can be invaluable. Remind your spouse how much you care for them and your desire to see them be well and free from the behaviors of chewing and spitting. If necessary, work with a specialist or marriage and family therapist to resolve the issues that need to be addressed.
Community Discussion: Share your thoughts here!
If you have a loved one that has struggled with chewing and spitting, what resources did you find helpful in encouraging them toward help?
About 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 October 21, 2016
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com