Bulimia Nervosa

Signs, Symptoms and Questions

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder. People with this disorder often eat in "binges" and then try to eliminate the food from their system by making themselves vomit, using laxatives, dieting or exercising excessively, and other techniques.

Symptoms and Signs of bulimia include:

  • Repeated binge eating, or eating larger amounts of food than most people would in a similar situation, in a short period of time (2 hours or less).
  • Frequently getting rid of the calories you've eaten (purging) by making yourself vomit, fasting, exercising too much, or misusing laxatives, diuretics, , or enemas. Misuse of these medicines can lead to serious health problems and even death.
  • Feeling a loss of control over how much you eat.
  • Feeling ashamed of overeating and very fearful of gaining weight
  • Basing your self-esteem and value upon your body shape and weight.
  • Thinking about food, your body, or dieting so much that it distracts you from other tasks. ("Bulimia Nervosa-Symptoms", 2005-2014)

Deciding to seek help for yourself or a loved one...

Most people with bulimia are of normal weight or even slightly overweight.

  • Constantly worrying or complaining about being fat
  • Having a distorted, excessively negative body image
  • Repeatedly eating unusually large quantities of food in one sitting, especially high-fat or sweet foods
  • Not wanting to eat in public or in front of others
  • Going to the bathroom right after eating or during meals
  • Exercising too much
  • Having sores, scars or calluses on the knuckles or hands
  • Having damaged teeth and gums

("Commonly Asked Questions: Bulimia Nervosa1", 2013)

These are all red flags.

Treatment options

Breaking the binge-and-purge cycle – The first phase of bulimia treatment focuses on stopping the vicious cycle of bingeing and purging and restoring normal eating patterns. You learn to monitor your eating habits, avoid situations that trigger binges, cope with stress in ways that don’t involve food, eat regularly to reduce food cravings, and fight the urge to purge.
  • Changing unhealthy thoughts and patterns – The second phase of bulimia treatment focuses on identifying and changing dysfunctional beliefs about weight, dieting, and body shape. You explore attitudes about eating, and rethink the idea that self-worth is based on weight.
  • Solving emotional issues – The final phase of bulimia treatment involves targeting emotional issues that caused the eating disorder in the first place. Therapy may focus on relationship issues, underlying anxiety and depression, low self-esteem, and feelings of isolation and loneliness. ("Bulimia Nervosa-Symptoms", 2005-2014)
  • References:

    Bulimia Nervosa-Symptoms. (n.d.). Retrieved December 17, 2014, from http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/eating-disorders/bulimia-nervosa/bulimia-nervosa-symptoms

    Commonly Asked Questions: Bulimia Nervosa1. (2013, January 1). Retrieved December 17, 2014, from http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/he905