Understanding Bulimia


Bulimia Nervosa is a type of eating disorder when an individual gets rid of the excess food intake (i.e. binge eating) by different methods of purging like vomiting or laxative use. The purging behavior usually goes unnoticed by family and friends for a long time till the person’s health and nutrition status become severely compromised. Bulimia can lead to low self-esteem, social isolation and negative feelings of guilt and shame or vice versa.

Both binging and purging behaviors relate to positive and negative feelings for those individuals who specially have misperceptions of good and bad body size and shape. When they feel bad after binging, they think they look bad and to feel better they should purge the food. The bad and good feelings and bad and good body weights and shape create a vicious cycle which has to be broken by professionals who have expertise in the field of eating disorder. Food is usually a tool to solve feelings associated with life problems.

Bulimia occurs more in women than men where rates are also higher among adolescents and college students. Bulimics usually binge different amounts of high fat and high sugar foods that are usually soft, easy to digest and regurgitate. Often times, stress and anxiety perceptions lead to binging and feelings of guilt and shame.

Self-induced vomiting can cause electrolyte imbalance that can lead to death and disability if severe. Bulimic symptoms also include water balance disorders like dehydration, multiple GI disorders, poor bone and dental health and menstruation irregularities. Therapy should be individualized and performed by a team consisting of a primary health provider, a dietitian and a psychotherapist.