Quite often we hear from individuals who report that they struggle with chewing and spitting, that is, they chew their food and then spit it out before swallowing. Some may do this in conjunction with other forms of disordered eating, such as bulimia or anorexia. Others do not. The following information is meant to clarify what can be involved with this disorder (herein referred to as CHSP).
- Food is placed in the mouth where it is tasted, chewed, and then spit out.
- The person avoids consuming the food item, and thus any “perceived” guilt for having enjoyed an item they may have labeled as a “bad” food.
- CHSP may serve different purposes for each individual.
- Some persons report they practice CHSP throughout the day and lose awareness of their own true hunger and need for food.
- Most report the practice of CHSP becomes “addictive” and difficult to cease.
- Because the individual avoids consuming the food through normal means of digestion he/she risks suffering from improper nutrition.
- CHSP can lead to ulcers because when food is in the mouth it triggers an acid release in the stomach, which can attack stomach lining when food is not present for digestion.
- CHSP behavior can be as physically, emotionally and physiologically negative as severe food restriction and/or binge eating.
- Even though the food is being spit out, it is often possible that the person does not lose weight, because a) some of the calories still make it into one’s system, b) those engaged in such behaviors may be prone to erratic eating in addition to CHSP, and/or c) the body reacts in unpredictable ways to the behavior, including releasing insulin into the body, triggered by food’s presence in the mouth.
What Do I Do Now?
First, it’s important to stop for a moment and consider what is leading you to this behavior. Eating issues are just symptoms of deeper problems, such as fear, anxiety, loneliness or depression. Getting to the root of what drives your food issues can be a hard yet rewarding experience.
As with all types of disordered eating, we strongly recommend that you seek out counsel from a therapist, doctor, or nutritionist. As noted above, even though CHSP doesn’t seem as extreme as some other types of disordered eating, it can have very harmful effects on your physical, intellectual, emotional, relational and even spiritual health. For more information on how to find the help you need, check out videos below or use the search box to find more. For information about treatment for CHSP, read our article on Finding Treatment.