Bulimia nervosa (commonly known as bulimia), is a type of eating disorder where people perform the act of binge eating- eating large amounts of food with a loss of control in the process- and then purge, trying to get rid of the extra calories in an unhealthy way. It may seem peculiar to some, but it is actually a potentially life-threating eating disorder that requires diagnosis.
Bulimia signs and symptoms may include:
- Preoccupied with their weight and body shape
- Judging themselves severely and harshly
- Living in fear of gaining weight
- Using laxatives after eating when they don’t really need it
- Feeling loss of control during binging
Into the minds of bulimics
People who suffer from bulimia often feel torn, in a way that they don’t know what to do because they are either in pain, lost, upset, or bored. And because of these emotions, they end up going to the kitchen, opening the fridge, and begin stuffing themselves with food as an escape mechanism.This somehow helps them feel like they can deal with their emotions and take control of them. Binge eating episodes happen several times when dealing with people who have bulimia. A common response if feeling guilty right after the episode and in turn, automatically try to make this feeling go away.How? By purposely purging/ vomiting to alleviate all the guilt and calories they just took in. In a way, vomiting often makes them feel relieved. In the mind of a bulimic, throwing up the food they just consumed resembles getting rid of their struggles, thoughts, and feelings that they are constantly battling with themselves. This explains why people who suffer from bulimia try to eliminate their feelings of guilt by throwing up what they ate after a binge episode. A particular example mentioned in this video by Dr. Sally compares purging to crying. She explains that when a person cries, the tears that come out of their eyes somehow express how or what they are feeling by externalizing them to the outside world. In a way, it is similar to purging where the person lets us or gets rid of the load of food they have in their stomachs. She explains that this could make them feel lighter and better, eventually associating emotional relief and control with food and vomiting. Bulimia prevention may include: fostering healthy body image from a young age, building confidence about won self-worth rather than solely on appearance, and discouraging diets that are unhealthy like using weight-loss supplements or laxatives.