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Bulimia and Binge Eating Disorder
Signs, Symptoms and Effects of Bulimia and Bingeing
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Anorexia - Balanced Healthy Diet - Bulimia & Binge Eating

Disordered Eating Pattern Involving Uncontrollable Binge Eating, Purging, & Metabolic Health Risks

Bulimia Nervosa & Binge Eating Disorder

What is Bulimia Nervosa?

It is only in the last 30 years that bulimia nervosa has been recognized by doctors as an eating disorder in it's own right. The term, bulimia nervosa, means literally 'the hunger of an ox'. The hunger, however, is an emotional need that cannot be satisfied by food alone. After binge-eating a large quantity of food to fill the hunger gap, the person will immediately rid themselves of the food they have consumed by vomiting or taking laxatives (or both), or they will work off the calories with exercise. This is an attempt to prevent gaining weight.

Bulimia Eating Disorder - Difficult to Detect

Bulimia is more difficult to detect as the person often will not lose weight so dramatically. In fact, even people close to them at home or work may not recognize the illness and so it can persist for many years undetected. Their chronic lack of self-confidence is often hidden. For example people with bulimia may have high-powered jobs that often demand them to be out-going and self-assured. As with anorexia, people who develop bulimia rely on the control of food and eating as a way of coping with emotional difficulties in their life.

Bulimia Eating Disorder - Symptoms & Signs

A person is most likely to develop bulimia in their late teens to early 20s. They may have had - or go on to develop - anorexia. This sometimes occurs because they believe bulimia will help them to diet successfully where other attempts to lose weight have failed.

Bulimia Eating Disorder - Physical Signs

- Frequent weight changes
- Disappearing to the toilet after meals in order to vomit food eaten
- Sore throat and tooth decay caused by excessive vomiting
- Swollen salivary glands making the face more round
- Poor skin condition
- Irregular periods
- Lethargy and tiredness

Bulimia Eating Disorder - Psychological Signs

- Uncontrollable urges to eat vast amounts of food
- An obsession with food
- Distorted perception of body weight and shape
- Emotional behaviour and mood swings
- Anxiety and depression; low self-esteem, shame and guilt
- Isolation - feeling helpless and lonely

Bulimia Eating Disorder - Behavioural Signs

- Bingeing and vomiting
- Excessive use of laxatives, diuretics or enemas
- Periods of fasting
- Excessive exercise
- Secrecy and reluctance to socialise
- Shoplifting for food; abnormal amounts of money spent on food
- Food disappearing unexpectedly

What is an Eating Binge?

A person may begin to binge in an attempt to cope with emotional difficulties or to ease tension but this can rapidly get out of control. The foods they eat are generally high calorie, full of carbohydrates and fat but under certain circumstances, the person may even resort to eating frozen food. As he or she starts to feel full, feelings of guilt and shame come into their mind. In desperation, they vomit or take laxatives to purge themselves of everything they have consumed.

At this point, some people describe feeling emotionally relieved and physically light-headed. This cycle can keep inner pain and unhappiness at bay - but only for a short time.

The frequency of these bulimic cycles will vary from person to person. Some will suffer from an episode every few months whilst others who are more severely ill, may binge and purge several times a day. Some people may vomit automatically after they have eaten any food. Others will eat socially but may be bulimic in private. Many people do not regard their illness as a problem, whilst others despise and fear the vicious and uncontrollable cycle they are in.

Binge Eating Disorder - Signs

- Eating much more rapidly than usual
- Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
- Eating large amounts of food when not physically hungry
- Eating alone because of their embarrassment at the quantities of food consumed
- Feeling ashamed, depressed or guilty after bingeing
- Being unable to purge themselves of the food eaten

Bulimia Eating Disorder - Long-Term Effects

In a similar way to anorexia, bulimia can take over the life of the person with the disorder, making them feel trapped and desperate. Chaotic eating and dramatic loss of fluids can cause physical problems, which can usually be corrected once the body is nourished in an even and moderate way.

Although the dangers of anorexia are more apparent because of a person's substantial weight loss or very low weight, bulimia can, in extreme cases, be fatal due to, for instance a heart attack. An imbalance or dangerously low levels of the essential minerals in the body can significantly or fatally affect the working of vital internal organs. Other dangers of bulimia include rupture of the stomach, choking, and erosion of tooth enamel.

Source: Eating Disorder Association

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