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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Lott

What is chewing and spitting disorder?

*Tw contains potentially triggering information. Please consider if you may be upset or triggered before reading






Chewing and spitting disorder is a relatively uncommon eating disorder where someone chews food, but instead of swallowing it, spits it out.


This disorder can have significant physical and mental health consequences and can also lead to malnutrition, dental problems, and social isolation. In this article, I will explore what chewing and spitting disorder is, its causes, symptoms, and how it can be treated.



WHAT IS CHEWING AND SPITTING DISORDER?


Chewing and spitting disorder is a type of eating disorder that is characterized by chewing food but spitting it out instead of swallowing. This disorder is often seen in people who have a fear of gaining weight or are trying to lose weight. The intent of chewing and spitting is to enjoy food's flavour without ingesting the calories. People with chewing and spitting disorder may binge eat and then spit out the food as a way of purging, or they may spit out every bite they take.



CAUSES OF CHEWING AND SPITTING DISORDER


There is no single cause of chewing and spitting disorder, but it often develops as a result of a combination of psychological, cultural, and social factors. The disorder can be triggered by negative body image, a fear of gaining weight, or a history of other eating disorders. Other factors that may contribute to the development of chewing and spitting disorder include stress, anxiety, and depression.


SYMPTOMS OF CHEWING AND SPITTING DISORDER


The symptoms of chewing and spitting disorder can vary from person to person. Some common symptoms of this disorder include:

  • Consistently chewing food and then spitting it out without swallowing.

  • Hiding or disposing of food after spitting it out.

  • Developing a preoccupation with food and its texture, taste, and smell.

  • Experiencing feelings of guilt, shame, or embarrassment after chewing and spitting.

  • Feeling isolated or avoiding social situations that involve food.

  • Suffering from dental problems or digestive issues.


HOW IS CHEWING AND SPITTING DISORDER TREATED?


Treatment for chewing and spitting disorder often involves a combination of therapies, often including cognitive-behavioural therapy, nutritional counselling, and medication. Cognitive-behavioural therapy can help you identify and challenge negative thoughts and behaviours related to food and weight. It can also help to learn new coping strategies and develop healthier eating habits. Therapy can also help you to address underlying causes or maintaining factors.


Nutritional counselling can help you improve you relationship with food and learn how to make informed decisions about what you chose to eat. This can involve working with a registered dietitian to develop a personalized meal plan that addresses your nutritional needs and helps promote a healthy weight.


Medication may be prescribed to help manage the symptoms of chewing and spitting disorder, particularly if you're also dealing with anxiety or depression.


In some cases, hospitalization may be required to address malnutrition, dehydration, or other medical complications that have developed as a result of the disorder.


TAKE AWAY


Chewing and spitting disorder is a relatively uncommon eating disorder that can have significant physical and mental health consequences. It is often triggered by negative body image, a fear of gaining weight, or a history of other eating disorders. Treatment for chewing and spitting disorder often involves a combination of therapies, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy, nutritional counselling, and medication. With appropriate treatment and support, people struggling with this can recover and develop a healthier relationship with eating.

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