Rumination disorder is an eating disorder that may be lesser known, so it’s not often talked about as much as other eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia. However, because it can lead to a number of issues, it’s best to be able to identify this disorder in yourself or a loved one. And, seek out treatment to establish a life free of eating disorders.
What is Rumination Disorder?
Rumination disorder is characterized by the regurgitation of food after eating at least once every month. Since it involves spitting out or vomiting food before it can be digested, it commonly results in malnutrition. It’s classified by the DSM-5 as an eating disorder that can be signified by the following characteristics:
- Not being stressed or alarmed when regurgitation occurs
- Rechewing, reswalloing, or spitting out food
- Regurgitation is not due to a concurring medical issue
- The disorder is not brought on by other eating disorders like bulimia, anorexia, or binge eating disorder
- While it’s possible that this disorder occurs with other mental health issues, these individuals may require individualized care
Some Other Commonalities of This Disorder
Typically, rumination disorder starts in early childhood. But, it’s possible to follow a person into adulthood. It’s also common that the regurgitation follows eating, and can be precluded by burping. It’s also important to note that rumination disorder is repeated regurgitation of food over prolonged periods of time. So, while it needs to happen at least once a month to become diagnosed, it needs to also have occurred for many months previous.
The Cause of Rumination Disorder
Unfortunately, the direct cause of rumination disorder is unknown. But, it is believed to be a learned behavior. If the behavior of regurgitating means that the person gets what they want, they continue with the behavior. And, eventually, this learned behavior becomes routine. For example, if a child learns that spitting out her food relieves her of her fear of vomiting, she will continue to spit out her food until this learned behavior becomes normal. It’s also important to note that body image, fear of gaining weight, and body weight/shape like other eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia.
Risk Factors for Developing this Eating Disorder
Fortunately, rumination disorder is relatively rare. But, there are some things that make people at a higher risk for developing this specific disorder. Some risk factors of rumination disorder can include:
- Individuals diagnosed with anxiety disorders
- Children/people with fears surrounding eating
- People with intellectual disabilities
- Individuals with developmental disorders
The Treating of Rumination Disorder
Fortunately, treatment for rumination disorder is effective in helping diagnosed individuals stop regurgitating. Furthermore, treatment can help to address the underlying causes of this disorder, whether that may be anxiety, depression, or fears surrounding food and eating. Typically, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBD) allows individuals to identify unhealthy mindsets and thought patterns which may have led to the development of self-inflicting, negative behaviors. Furthermore, learning breathing techniques can help women diagnosed with rumination disorder to learn how to ward of regurgitation. Finally, meal management can help to establish healthy eating patterns and help individuals learn to cook meals that they enjoy and which can nourish the body.
If you think you or a loved one struggles with rumination disorder, Willow Place for Women is here to help. We help many women each year identify, confront, and heal from the effects of eating disorders so they may develop healthy eating habits. And, learn to live a life free of eating disorders for the remainder of their lives. If you’re ready to talk to us about getting the help you need, contact us today.