A serious eating disorder characterized by a cycle of bingeing and behaviors such as self-induced vomiting to compensate for the effects of binge eating.
About Bulimia Nervosa
- Affects 1-2% of adolescent and young adult women and 80% of patients are female.
- Usually appear to be of average body weight and recognize that their behaviors are unusual.
- Frequently associated with symptoms of depression and changes in social adjustment.
- May attach self-esteem to body image and feel out of control during binge-eating episodes.
- Evidence of binge eating: Disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods of time, finding wrappers and containers.
- Evidence of purging behaviors: Frequent trips to the bathroom after meals, signs and/or smells of vomiting, presence of laxatives or diuretics packages.
- Excessive, rigid exercise regimen despite weather, fatigue, illness, or injury; compulsive need to “burn off” calories
- Unusual swelling of the cheeks or jaw area.
- Calluses on the back of the hands and knuckles from self-induced vomiting.
- Discoloration or staining of the teeth.
- Creation of lifestyle schedules to make time for binge-and-purge sessions.
- Withdrawal from usual friends and activities.
- Behaviors and attitudes indicating that weight loss, dieting, and control of food are becoming primary concerns.
Bulimia nervosa can be extremely harmful to the body. The binge-and-purge cycles can damage the entire digestive system, the heart and other major organ functions. Some of the health consequences include:
- Electrolyte imbalances (caused by dehydration from purging) can lead to irregular heartbeats and heart failure.
- Rupture of the esophagus from frequent vomiting.
- Tooth decay and staining from stomach acids released during vomiting.
- Chronic irregular bowel movements and constipation from laxative abuse.
- Gastric rupture is an uncommon but possible side effect of binge eating.
How Friends and Family Can Help
- Set aside a time for a private meeting with your friend to discuss your concerns openly and honestly in a caring, supportive way.
- Ask your friend to explore these concerns with a counselor, doctor, nutritionist, or other health professional.
- Avoid placing shame, blame, or guilt on your friend regarding their actions or attitudes and avoid giving simple solutions.
- Remind your friend that you care and want your friend to be healthy and happy and express your continued support.
Information Provided by the National Eating Disorders Association
Adrien Paczosa is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian practicing in Austin, Texas and the surrounding counties.
She is the owner and founder of I Live Well Nutrition her Dietitian practice which started in 2007 and serves clients in the Austin, Texas area in two locations. Fearless Practitioners, the division of her business that offers training to dietitians and wellness professionals.