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Is Spitting Out Food an Eating Disorder?

I used to have a serious eating disorder so I know what anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating are. For the past year though I have been doing this weird thing where I put the food in my mouth and chew it, but before swallowing I spit it out into my garbage or in a bag. I can eat a whole box of doughnuts (12 pack) in less than a day by doing this. I just grab a large amount of food at my college cafeteria and take it to my room, munch on it, and spit it out. I don't know what this is called. It's not bulimia because I'm not throwing up and it's not anorexia because I eat some of it and it's not binge because I'm not actually eating it. Is there a name for this?
- Freyda*

Your current food and eating habits don't fit the exact description of anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating. But this is still considered an eating disorder, even though it doesn't have a more specific name.

If you've dealt with an eating disorder in the past, you probably have some experience figuring out issues that affect your eating behavior. Try to identify the reasons, ideas, and feelings that get you to put food in your mouth, chew it, and spit out. For instance, some people with eating disorders eat because they are dealing with cravings or food urges. Others have fears about weight or body image problems. Some people feel shame and guilt along with their eating behaviors; for others it's fear and relief. Perhaps there are fears associated with eating certain foods. Others find themselves eating for emotional reasons. Work with a counselor or therapist to help you explore what drives your eating problems.

Eating disorders can recur — and symptoms can vary from what you experienced in the past. Think about what helped you deal with an eating disorder in the past, and decide what approaches might help you overcome what's going on now. Find a professional to work with to help you work on establishing a better relationship with food, eating, feelings, thoughts, and your body. Ask someone in your student health service to direct you to a therapist so you can sort this out and move forward in a healthier direction. You deserve to feel nurtured, whole, satisfied, and to enjoy food and eating.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: January 2014

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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