What is Bulimia?
Bulimia, also called bulimia nervosa, is a psychological eating disorder. Bulimia is characterized by episodes of binge-eating followed by inappropriate methods of weight control (purging). Inappropriate methods of weight control include vomiting, fasting, enemas, excessive use of laxatives and diuretics, or compulsive exercising. Excessive shape and weight concerns are also characteristics of bulimia. A binge is an episode where an individual eats a much larger amount of food than most people would in a similar situation. Binge eating is not a response to intense hunger. It is usually a response to depression, stress, or self esteem issues. During the binge episode, the individual experiences a loss of control. However, the sense of a loss of control is also followed by a short-lived calmness. The calmness is often followed by self-loathing. The cycle of overeating and purging usually becomes an obsession and is repeated often.
Bulimia was only diagnosed as its own eating disorder in the 1980s.
People with bulimia can look perfectly normal. Most of them are of normal weight, and some may be overweight. Women with bulimia tend to be high achievers.
It is often difficult to determine whether a person is suffering from Bulimia. This occurs because bingeing and purging is often done in secret. Also, individuals suffering from Bulimia often deny their condition.
Sufferers consume huge quantities of food. Sometimes up to 20,000 calories at a time. The foods on which they binge tend to be foods labeled as "comfort foods" -- sweet foods, high in calories, or smooth, soft foods like ice cream, cake, and pastry. An individual may binge anywhere from twice a day to several times daily.
A Family Member has an Eating Disorder
If you have a family member that with an Eating Disorder, your family member needs a lot of support. Suggest that your family member see an eating disorder expert. Be prepared for denial, resistance, and even anger. A doctor and/or a counselor can help them battle their eating disorder.
What Causes Bulimia?
There is currently no definite known cause of bulimia. Researchers believe it begins with dissatisfaction of the person's body and extreme concern with body size and shape. Usually individuals suffering from bulimia have low self-esteem, feelings of helplessness and a fear of becoming fat
Risk Factors of Bulimia
There are certain professions where eating orders are more prevalent. Thinness is usually emphasized in these professions. The professions are: modeling, dancing, gymnastics, wrestling, and long-distance running.
Good news about Bulimia
Bulimia can be overcome.
Bulimia in the News
In a new study, Dr. Walter Kaye, a University of Pittsburgh psychiatry professor, has found evidence that bulimic women have altered brain chemistry, possibly from birth, which puts them at higher risk for eating disorderseven long after theyve recovered from bulimia.
A new study adds to evidence that the eating disorder bulimia springs at least in part from a chemical malfunction in the brain and not merely from excessive desire to remain thin, researchers say. For more information click here
Learn about Anorexia
Additional resources on Eating Disorders.
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