Do I Need Help to Stop Habit of Chewing and Spitting?

By December 6, 2012

I’m 23, and ever since I can remember I have had a difficult relationship with food. In my teens I was a model and flirted with anorexia but the last 6 years I have increased weight constantly. I first developed the chewing/spitting as a way to taste chocolate without really eating it. But now never a day goes by without me eating an entire chocolate bar, big pieces of bread or even plates of spaghetti without spitting it. I am constantly bloated, have big colon issues and bad teeth – is this related with my awful habit? The only times of my life when I have not spit is when I am following a doctor recommended diet. Do I need a psychologist or a nutritionist to help me? All I want is for this habit to stop. – anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

Yes, you definitely need to seek help.

Chewing and spitting is an eating disorder behavior. I would recommend that you work with a dietitian to help you follow a meal plan that can maintain a healthy body weight and also a therapist to help you deal with the emotional issues that are leading you to do this.

I am not surprised by the physical problems you are experiencing. Chewing and spitting will damage the teeth significantly over time. It also could lead to problems with movement through the intestinal tract. You could develop enlargement of the parotid (mumps) glands due to the increase work in saliva and oral digestive enzymes produced.

You are describing a long-standing eating disorder. You deserve to get the help you need to move on in your life! Don’t be ashamed to tell your health care professionals about your problem. If they don’t know, they can’t help you. See “Finding Treatment” for further information.

I wish you the best.

Brenda K. Woods, MD, FAAFP