Bulimia Nervosa

Eating and purging

Bulimia Nervosa (often referred to simply as "bulimia") is an eating disorder characterized by episodes of binge eating followed by self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives, excessive exercising to burn calories, or fasting.

Like anorexia nervosa, this condition can lead to malnutrition and serious health problems.

Here is a list of characteristics that are commonly found in cases of bulimia:

*Recurring incidents of eating a large amount of food in a short amount of time, accompanied by an uncontrollable urge to keep eating until overfull followed by:

--Self-induced vomiting

--Use of diuretics, laxatives, enemas

--Excessive exercise or fasting to compensate for overeating

*Obsession with food, thinking about it all the time

*Self worth is largely based on appearance, particularly body size and shape

Eating disorders in general are more common in women, but men are more likely to suffer from bulimia than other disordered eating conditions such as anorexia nervosa.

Getting help

Each case of any eating disorder is unique, and must be handled on an individual basis. Since eating disorders are complex, involving physical, mental and emotional factors, treatment must be a cooperative effort between physicians, therapists and family who can address each of these areas. The weight loss has to be addressed, especially if it has reached a dangerous level, and at the same time, the underlying emotional issues must be understood.

Caveat: Please don't consider using purging as a weight loss technique even for a short time. Once you start down that road, you may find that you will not have the ability to stop the behavior before it has adverse effects on your health.


Some health experts say that a condition can be officially diagnosed as bulimia, if the incidents of binge eating and purging happen at least twice a week for three weeks.

If you suspect that someone you love has an eating disorder, please seek professional help as soon as possible.

Not the same as Binge-Eating Disorder

Although there are some similarities between them, bulimia nervosa should not be confused with binge-eating disorder. Like bulimia, binge-eating disorder includes out-of-control eating, but rarely involves purging.

Click here to go from Bulimia Nervosa page to Healthy Eating Support home page.

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