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




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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