Chewing and spitting in eating disorders and its relationship to binge eating

Angela S. Guarda, Janelle W. Coughlin, Molly Cummings, Angela Marinilli, Nancy Haug, Michael Boucher, Leslie J. Heinberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective. This study examined (i) the frequency of chewing and spitting and (ii) its association with other pathological eating behaviors in eating-disordered inpatients. We hypothesized a positive association between chewing and spitting and binge eating given the phenomenological similarities between these disordered eating behaviors. Method. Frequent chewers/spitters were compared with those who did not regularly engage in this behavior with regard to diagnosis, psychometric test results, and associated eating pathology. Results: Chewing and spitting was not associated with elevated bingeing. Rather,pitters exhibited higher levels of restrictive eating behaviors and the behavior was more prevalent in younger patients. Discussion. Contrary to our predictions, chewing and spitting is more closely associated with restrictive than with binge behaviors. This suggests that most individuals chew and spit small portions of food. The behavior is frequent, occurs across diagnostic groups, and may be associated with greater psychopathology. Future studies should clarify the amount of food consumed during chew/spit episodes and the presence of a sense of loss of control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-239
Number of pages9
JournalEating Behaviors
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2004


  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Chewing
  • Eating disorders
  • Endogenous opioids
  • Spitting out food

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Chewing and spitting in eating disorders and its relationship to binge eating'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this