National Eating Disorders Association

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chewing and spitting

i have recently started chewing and spitting food, its so addictive and i dont know how to stop! just another way the ED is progressing. i am extremely ashamed and embarrassed about this and cant bring myself to tell my healthcare professionals. anyone has this problem too? i feel so alone.


HI. I know and understand what it is to chew and spit. It seems like such an answer to the problem of not wanting to ingest calories, but like most things it is addictive. I think your therapy team will understand. It is not an unknown symptom. Others do it and you will feel relief it you are honest with your team. I wish you wouldn't heap guilt and shame on yourself. It is just another tactic of the eating disorder. Bringing things to the light, brings opportunity for healing and help. Your team can not help you if they don't know what you are struggling with. Please. You are a special person. You deserve help. Shame brings hiding and hiding brings isolation. Isolation brings depression and more of the same. Take the chance to tell your team. You might be surprised with the way they respond. I know. It seems gross. Taking food into the mouth chewing it and then spitting it out. No one really knows I do it but I have at times told my team. My dietitian knows. They understand. Go ahead and take the risk and get the help you deserve. Butterfly67

I agree with butterfly67's

I agree with butterfly67's excellent post - you don't deserve the embarrassment and shame that you feel. If you can gather the courage to be open with your team, I don't think you will regret it. I know it's hard to believe, but there are others who do exactly what you are doing, and your team will probably have treated this exact same issue before!

Don't feel alone. Many of us have been there, and we all have stuff to work through. :-)

Let's Respect Others

It is important to respect others' actions and posts as we are here to support one another. Agreeing with PianoGirl and Butterfly67, you can get through this and you are not alone! Use your support and if you need any additional support the NEDA Helpline is always happy to help and you can reach them at 1-800-931-2237 M-Th 9AM-9PM F 9AM-5PM EST.
Good luck, and you can do this! :)



I have this problem, too. Not sweets or anything I want to eat, just crumbs.

This part of the ritual started to replace the purging of the bulimia. Yes,it is a compulsion and addictive, and I am more ashamed of it than I was of purging. And I have not been able to tell any counselor about it, either.

thanks for the support. i

thanks for the support. i will see my doctor in a few days and i am hoping i will be brave enough to tell. that i try to eat more than i currently am but cant swallow and end up spitting.

i managed to mention it but

i managed to mention it but didnt say how severe it was. it was also a casual meeting so we didnt go into it. im still struggling a lot with this. spending like $30 a week on food that doesnt go down my throat. :(

chewing and spitting

Good for you for taking the risk to begin to talk about it. It only has forward movement to go. You start off slow and little by little you will be talking about it more and more. Let your therapist know you need help bringing it up and that you want to talk about it but that you are nervous to. Great start. I am proud of you. Good job. Keep up the good work. Butterfly67


Hi I suffer from chewing and spitting for nearly ten years. I do not know how to swallow food anymore but I want to recover. Did any of you recover from this? And what did you first try to eat like in the beginning? I am afraid my body won't accept it. I tried for the first time to swallow some food last night but my belly ended up so distended that I reached for laxatives.

Same here

I did the same thing when I tried to eat after chewing and spitting for so long. It wasn't for as long of a period as you, but I still had problems. Good news, though - I've recovered and can eat normally now. As to what to begin eating, that's probably a question for your doctor or therapist. Sorry not to be able to give any more help than that.

Very brave

Hi- I just read through all of the posts on this thread and I want to say that I am so impressed with how brave you all are for admitting your struggles with chewing and spitting, and reaching out for help, in spite of the guilt and shame the ED piles onto you. I struggled with bulimia for the first 10 years of my ED, and then for over 20 more years with restrictive/anorexic eating, but I have no personal history with spitting and chewing. However, I am also a recovering heroin addict, and your description of chewing and spitting being addictive really hit home with me, and I get it. I understand how it could be a compulsion that will-power not only fails to end the behavior, but only seems to make it worse, as is the case with other addictions. There is a 12-step program that really helped me with the addictive qualities of my own ED, and perhaps you might find a 12-step approach useful, as the 12-steps are a proven treatment for many addictions people suffer from. I am biased towards the 12-steps, because working through them saved my life more than once, and in my opinion, they make a great adjunct to individual therapy and work with the doctor's and dietitian's on your treatment team. I honestly believe everyone should work through the 12-steps with a sponsor, even with no addiction issues, because they become a way of life that builds integrity on personal accountability. I don't know if I said anything useful, and like I said, I never had issues with chewing and spitting, but I know what it's like to have an addiction to negative behaviors, and to be unable to stop no matter how hard you try day-in-and-day-out. I hope everyone who was honest and posted on this thread in spite of how hard it was to admit, soon find healing and recovery in the place of obsession and despair. Take care:)


When I was much younger I used to chew and spit. For me it was a precursor to my full-fledged eating disorder. I did it for awhile on and off, until I became Bulimic at age 18. Fast forward I’m 40 now and finally in recovery. I hope you find help!


I am the opposite. I have had bulimia 18 years. I am 50 now and have been seriously trying to recover for almost 3 yrs now. I can go about 7 weeks without symptoms and I don't restrict anything. Then body image issues kick in and I relapse. I am really afraid of losing teeth at this point.



Just wanted to welcome you to the forums. I'm glad you decided to come here and share. Recovery can be so difficult and unfortunately relapse is common. I hope you are able to be gentle with yourself as you continue to fight this- it is a process. I just wanted to see if you were currently working with a mental health professional or doctor, or what your thoughts were about seeking support? I know for me, that has made all the difference in being able to maintain recovery. I hope to hear from you again soon- we're here for you <3

Edited Your Post

Hi victimofdietculture - your post had to be edited because you included specifics about disordered eating which can be triggering to others. You can take a look at our Community Guidelines here: We also want to make sure you know about the NEDA Helpline! In addition to these forums, please feel free to contact the Helpline at (800) 931-2237, open Monday-Thursday 9AM-9PM EST and Friday 9AM-5PM EST. During these hours you can chat with us also by clicking the chat now option at the top right hand corner! And please continue posting!

Same Here

I have the same habit too. It can make you feel so ashamed. I can relate on how addicting it is. Maybe figuring out it's root cause and what you can substitute it with would help?


I do that sometimes too, but not always. I understand why it feels addictive-- you get to "pretend" to eat without actually having to do it. I don't have any recommendations for stopping, but please try to tell your providers. I know the embarrassment and shame can feel overwhelming, but they just want to help you. If you don't tell them, they can't.

Chewing and spitting

Is also considered purging. I used to do it.

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