Health DisorderMental Health

Rumination Syndrome: Causes, symptoms and Treatment

The well-known phrase “We Are What We Eat” carries a great truth, since our diet really influences how we feel physically and mentally. Occasionally, situations can occur that cause complications in normal eating patterns and that can cause unfavorable consequences for the person. In relation to this aspect, there is a disorder related to the difficulty of digesting food correctly and that usually causes food to be spit out.

Rumination Syndrome

What Is Rumination Syndrome?

Rumination syndrome is an eating disorder characterized by the presence of episodes in which the person spits out food after swallowing it. In other words, rumination is a pathology whose main pattern is that the person cannot digest the food they eat, so they vomit everything they eat and repeat the same sequence.

Likewise, according to the DSM-V, it is possible to include rumination syndrome within the group of eating disorders and food intake due to its qualities. However, in order to diagnose this pathology, a series of diagnostic criteria must be met:

  • Duration of a month or more.
  • Frequent spitting and/or food intake.
  • The symptoms cannot be attributed to another mental health disorder or to the intake of drugs or toxic substances.
  • Deterioration of social, work and family relationships due to symptoms.

Symptoms Of Rumination Syndrome

In order to correctly diagnose rumination syndrome, it is important to know how the symptoms manifest themselves, which can appear on a physical, emotional and behavioral level. We show them below:

  • Repeated regurgitation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Avoidance of social situations related to food
  • Dizziness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Distress
  • Catastrophic thoughts
  • Body weight loss
  • Frequent body aches
  • Distorted perception of body image.

It is important to mention that the isolated presence of any of these symptoms does not necessarily constitute rumination syndrome. For this reason, the diagnosis should always be carried out by a mental health professional specialized in eating disorders who evaluates the clinical conditions of each particular patient.

Causes Of Rumination Syndrome

Why do I regurgitate food? The causes of rumination syndrome are another fundamental aspect to understand the possible origins of this disorder. In this way, having consistent information can be very useful for developing strategies to improve the patient’s quality of life. Next, we show you the most frequent causes of this disorder:

Causes Of Rumination Syndrome

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors include certain attitudes that develop within the environment of the person suffering from the pathology. For example, there may be the idea that it is important to be thin for a person to be socially accepted. Likewise, imitation is also part of eating behavior patterns.

For this reason, if any of the family members have been diagnosed with this disorder, there is a good chance that the same mechanisms will be adopted over time.

Genetic Factors

On the other hand, gene transmission plays a fundamental role in this pathology. In this way, if one of the parents has alterations in any of the genes, it can cause their child to have the same deficiencies that have a negative impact on their diet. This can only be known through medical examinations.

Rumination Syndrome Treatment

How is rumination disorder cured? Despite the difficulties caused by rumination syndrome, there are approaches that allow a remarkable remission of the symptoms. In this sense, each treatment has good efficacy and efficiency in patients diagnosed with this eating disorder. The main treatments are:

Exposure Techniques

It consists of presenting the patient with the stimulus that gives rise to the problem, in this case, exposure to food. The main idea of ‚Äč‚Äčthis strategy is that the person has positive contact with food gradually to facilitate food intake and avoid behaviors that are harmful to their health, such as vomiting.

From the repetition of these sequences, it is possible to modify the behavior, since it will allow the person to cut the connection between food and regurgitation, that is, to stop associating eating with vomiting. Various psychological therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy make use of this technique.


The objective of this treatment is to focus attention on the present and avoid unpleasant thoughts regarding a feared stimulus. In cases of eating disorders, there are often negative ideas about food intake. Through mindfulness, the person can calm both the body and the mind.

Cognitive Restructuring

This technique aims to change the way of thinking in various situations, both social and personal. When the person understands their behavior and thought patterns, it will be possible to change the position they adopt in their day-to-day situations, such as problems with food or binge eating, among others.

Psychological Therapy

Beyond the approaches mentioned above, psychological therapy allows us to locate the emotions, thoughts and behaviors that give rise to the symptoms of each person. Therapy is a space that enables reflection, the realization of objectives, and goal planning.

Psychiatric Medication

Finally, the supply of psychoactive drugs is another viable alternative in cases of considerable severity. However, it is important to note that any psychiatric medication must be prescribed by a mental health professional who is monitoring the patient’s progress.