What is bulimia?

Photo by Curology on Unsplash

Binge, purge, repeat — the vicious cycle

  • Bingeing: Eating, in a discrete period of time, an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat during a similar period of time and under similar circumstances; characterized by a sense of lack of control over eating during the episode.
  • Compensatory behaviors: Recurrent inappropriate behavior in order to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting (purging), misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or other medications, fasting, or excessive exercise.

Warning Signs

  • Disappearing after eating, often to the bathroom
  • Being overly concerned with weight loss, dieting, and controlling food
  • Evidence of bingeing — i.e. disappearance of large amounts of food, lots of empty wrappers or containers
  • Evidence of purging — i.e. signs/smells of vomiting, packages of laxatives or diuretics
  • Cutting out foods or food groups — i.e. going vegan, no sugar, etc
  • Drinking excessive amounts of water
  • Maintains rigid exercise regimen despite sickness or injury
  • Unusual swelling of cheeks or jaw
  • Discolored/stained teeth
  • Calluses on backs of hands from self-induced vomiting
  • Extreme mood swings

Physical complications

  • Stomach cramps, constipation, acid reflux
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Cold intolerance
  • Hair loss
  • Dry skin, brittle nails
  • Menstrual irregularities for females
  • Impaired immune function
  • Noticeable fluctuations in weight, both up and down
  • Slowing of the heart rate (can lead to cardiac arrest)
  • Severe electrolyte abnormalities (can also lead to cardiac arrest, often unexpectedly)

Common misconceptions

How bulimia helps people

First steps toward recovery

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Ice cream lover. Dog mom. Registered dietitian. Downtown HTX city dweller.

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Abbie Joy Womack

Abbie Joy Womack

Ice cream lover. Dog mom. Registered dietitian. Downtown HTX city dweller.

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