Bulimia is an illness in which a person binges on food or has regular episodes of overeating and feels a loss of control. The person then uses different methods — such as vomiting or abusing laxatives — to prevent weight gain.
“Sometimes I can’t help it, I just have to eat, and then I can’t stop. After that I have no choice but to make myself throw-up.”
“I am ashamed that I purge, but if I didn’t, I would be really obese. And that is worse than purging.”
The essential feature of Bulimia Nervosa is binge eating. To binge means eating more than most people would in that situation and the eating feels out of control. Another critical feature is compensating for the binge eating in some fashion, such as self-induced vomiting, using laxatives, diuretics or diet pills, excessive exercise or fasting. Like Anorexia Nervosa, individuals with Bulimia Nervosa place an exaggerated emphasis upon body size and appearance as the basis for judging one’s worth and that of others.
One very serious consequence of repeated vomiting or laxative use is that the body is depleted of important chemicals like sodium and potassium, called electrolytes. Electrolyte depletion can disrupt heart functioning and cause deterioration of the kidneys, both of which are potentially fatal. Other medical complications include erosion of the teeth, constipation, swollen parotid glands, dizziness, irritation of the esophagus and disruption of the menstrual cycle. Most of these problems readily improve if the purging stops and a healthy meal plan is followed.
Click here to learn how we can help. If you or someone you know is struggling with Bulimia Nervosa, please contact St. Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute at 636-532-9188 or toll free at 877-245-2688 for help.