Bulimia nervosa repeats a frequent cycle that involves eating unusually large amounts of food, followed by purging (self-induced vomiting), fasting, laxative abuse, excessive exercise, and/or other compensatory behaviors. Over time, the physically damaging effects of bulimia mirror its intense emotional toll. The Emily Program can help you or your loved one break the cycle.
The Shame that Accompanies Bulimia Nervosa
Outward appearances often disguise the secret lives of people who struggle with bulimia nervosa. Those struggling with bulimia often weigh within or slightly above the normal range for their age. Yet, they typically harbor deep fears of weight gain or they desperately seek weight loss. They feel unhappy about their body size and shape—even as they binge on thousands of calories in a single episode.
People with bulimia try to compensate for gorging by ridding themselves of the excess food, sometimes privately vomiting multiple times a day. They may purchase laxatives from multiple stores to “stock up” for their uncontrolled eating episodes. Sometimes they can’t afford the laxatives or their preferred binge food, and they want to hide the expenditures from a parent or spouse, so they steal instead. All of this secrecy amplifies their feelings of disgust, guilt, or shame. The Emily Program can help you or your loved one break this vicious cycle.
Bulimia Nervosa Warning Signs
- Frequently and repetitively eating large quantities of food, especially sweets
- Uncontrolled eating, particularly after a restrictive diet or in response to a stressful or negative situation
- Compensatory behavior to offset weight gain such as vomiting, laxatives, fasting or over-exercising
- Leaving for the bathroom immediately after eating
- Swollen cheeks from self-induced vomiting
- Yellow, sensitive, slightly pointed teeth, often with receding gum lines
- Skin sores or gray or brown skin spots
- Broken blood vessels in the eyes
- Excessive talk about weight
- Dissatisfaction with body image, size, or shape
- Misuse of diuretics, diet pills, or laxatives
- Feeling out of control, depressed, or anxious
Dentists may first notice signs of bulimia nervosa, because repetitive vomiting permanently erodes tooth enamel and discolors teeth. Bulimia causes damage to the esophagus, kidneys, stomach, intestines, lung, and heart, too. This eating disorder may also disrupt normal bowel function, cause electrolyte imbalances, and pose other serious and life-threatening health conditions.
Read more about the physical effects of bulimia nervosa here.