7 Facts About Bulimia
Have you or your loved one experienced a loss of control in your over-eating habits and a longing to stay thin? You may be suffering from an eating disorder called Bulimia Nervosa. First diagnosed in the 1980s, bulimia was thought to be part of anorexia. Bulimia differs from anorexia, however, in that it involves a binge-purge cycle. Sufferers of bulimia will eat large amounts of food in a short time and then, due to feelings of extreme guilt and shame, will attempt to purge the food from their body. But there is much more to know about bulimia than this one symptom.
Common symptoms of bulimia nervosa include:
- Recurrent episodes of binge eating, with a feeling of lack of control
- Recurrent episodes of inappropriate purging behaviors to prevent weight gain
- A self-esteem overly influenced by body shape and weight
- A fear of gaining weight, despite having a normal weight
If you or someone you love has an eating disorder, we can help. Have a confidential conversation with a counselor right now. Call (888) 837-6577.
Is it Bulimia? Here are 7 facts about bulimia to challenge misconceptions about this dangerous eating disorder.
1. Bulimia is rooted in compulsive habits.
If you have bulimia or another eating disorder, you may be obsessed with your body image and go to severe measures to alter your weight. While anorexia nervosa sufferers tend to restrict their calorie intake, bulimia sufferers binge eat and purge.
Binge eating is consuming large portions of food in short periods of time, and is often done in secret. Guilt and shame often follow. These are also symptoms of binge-eating disorder. The difference is that bulimia includes purging—behaviors such as forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, or fasting.
If you have bulimia, you may also exercise compulsively. Regular exercise is a normal part of a healthy lifestyle. But people with bulimia can take this to the extreme, exercising several hours a day. This can lead to other health problems, such as:
- body injuries
2. Bulimia is a mental disorder.
Bulimia is an eating disorder, but it is also a mental disorder. And it can be fatal. This fact is attributed to the risks of long-term health problems which result from eating and purging behaviors, as well as suicide. Bulimia can cause people to feel shame and guilt about their inability to control compulsive behaviors.
3. Bulimia may be genetic.
There is no identified cause of bulimia. Some research suggests the disorder may be genetic. You may be more prone to developing bulimia if your parent has a related eating disorder. It is not clear how much this is due to genes, or to environmental factors at home.
4. Bulimia may be influenced by societal pressures.
Some cases suggest there may be a correlation between the American obsession with thinness and eating disorders. Wanting to adapt to popular beauty standards can cause people—especially youth—to engage in unhealthy eating habits.
5. Bulimia affects men, too.
While women are the most prone to eating disorders, especially bulimia, the disorder is not gender specific. Studies have found approximately 15% of those being treated for bulimia and anorexia are male. Men are less likely to exhibit noticeable symptoms or seek appropriate treatments. This can put them at greater risk for health problems.
6. Bulimia sufferers can have normal body weights.
Not everyone with bulimia is ultra-thin. Where anorexia causes a large calorie deficit, sometimes leading to extreme weight loss, people suffering with bulimia tend to consume more calories overall through bingeing and purging. This explains why many people with bulimia still retain normal body weights. This can be deceptive to loved ones, and can even cause a doctor to miss the diagnosis.
7. Bulimia can have serious health consequences.
This eating disorder causes more than just unhealthy weight loss. Every system in your body is dependent on nutrition and healthy eating habits to function properly. When you disrupt your natural metabolism through binging and purging, your body can be seriously affected.
Bulimia can also cause:
- low blood pressure and irregular heart rate
- dry skin
- decreased electrolyte levels and dehydration
- esophageal ruptures from excessive vomiting
- gastrointestinal problems
- irregular periods
- kidney failure
If you or someone you love suffers with bulimia, there is hope. Treatment is available that can offer you the chance for complete recovery. We can help.
Bulimia is treatable. Most who receive treatment for bulimia recover and resume a healthy lifestyle. It is important for you to seek treatment as early as possible.
At Honey Lake Clinic, our experienced staff, licensed therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists understand that effective treatment for eating disorders requires a multifaceted, faith-based approach, involving healing of the body, mind, and spirit. Our unique treatment programs specifically and deeply address all three spheres, offering each client his or her greatest chance at wholeness and transformative growth.
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