DEFINITION of BULIMIA
Bulimia Nervosa is a mental illness that takes an underlying severe mood of anxiety and turns it into an obsession that harmfully evacuates food intake.
[Read more about Anorexia > > > “What Is Anorexia?“]
With anorexia – the aim is to stop eating food. It is malnutrition through voluntary starvation.
With bulimia – the trick is to eat plenty. You can even over-eat . However, the control (which is what anorexics and bulimics crave) is all about finding ways to forcibly evacuate the food before it has any chance to benefit or nourish the body.
The net result with bulimia is the same as with anorexia and in many cases both anorexia and bulimia methods are employed by eating disorder sufferers at the same time.
Bulimics use various methods to clear food from their stomachs, but primarily it involves regular induced vomiting (purging) – usually immediately after meals – or repeated use of laxatives to ensure the body is unable to gain any nutritional value from the food consumed.
As you may imagine – bulimia is a serious mental illness. Because the food swallowed is never digested, this rapidly starts to leach the body of nutrients, bitamins and the wherewithal to cover the bones with flesh and this can ultimately result in death.
Eating disorders might easily be imagined as something indulged in by faddy teenagers who will probably grow out of it.
This would be a dangerous assumption.
The reality is – bulimia is a severe mental illness involving self-deception, lethal programs of starvation and a complete inability to realize that bulimia is a vicious self-perpetuating, self-destructive process that can be virtually impossible to escape from without prolonged periods of help.
If bulimia is left untreated, it will rapidly advance from the early stages to become a chronic and dominant condition where the likelihood of it terminating a young life becomes a much higher possibility.
One thing that becomes immediately apparent when you take a close look at bulimia and anorexia is that these eating disorders can kill and the deaths occur regardless of age, ethnicity or socio-economic group.
If You’re Trying to Help Someone Break Free
from Bulimia – Click Here > > > Bulimia Recovery Tips
“How Can I Spot Bulimia In Another Person?”
When trying to detect bulimia in a friend or family member there are several things you need to be aware of.
Firstly – the bulimic sufferer is totally convinced they are too fat and no amount of arguing will get them to change their mind. Logic simply doesn’t come into this discussion as far as the average bulimic is concerned.
Having strict control over food consumption often gives bulimics the impression that they have a measure of control in their lives.
This is relevant because bulimics usually suffer from an underlying inability to control something important and worrying (feelings – self-worth – bereavement – bullying etc.). This attachment to food control partly satisfies the need to feel a degree of independent authority and mastery over something in their lives that nobody else can control or influence.
This is the reason why secrecy and self-denial are fundamental anchors in perpetuating eating disorders.
Secondly – because of the secrecy and self-denial, people with eating disorders are unable to interpret their image correctly.
They will inevitably look in the mirror and see a ‘fat’ person – no matter how many times they are told the truth about their skeletal appearance.
The secrecy forces them to try and disguise their true appearance and they can become quite devious to this end.
Wearing baggy clothing that does not hug the body’s bony contours is a frequent ploy, used to hide their appearance from curious eyes.
As a further defence against discovery, people with eating disorders usually believe they are unable to tell their friends and relatives about their condition, as they believe that the truth will be too upsetting.
In truth – most relatives will want to help in any way they can as all they want to see is a happy person rather than someone tortured with a mental illness.
Thirdly – and also due to the self-denial and the need for secrecy, bulimics adopt a number of misleading patterns of behavior designed to trick their nearest and dearest into believing that everything is OK.
“What Signs Should I Look For ?”
If you believe someone possibly has bulimia and you’re looking for clues – there are some obvious ones to check – but you may have to do some digging:
1). To maintain control over the food in her stomach, the bulimia sufferer will induce vomiting in private, anything up to five times a day – possibly even more, in extreme cases.
This activity – which would be truly unpleasant for non-sufferers – is compulsive and often described as being comforting or rewarding in a counter-intuitive way.
It is a constant daily practise as the sufferer – blinded by obsession – pushes against the body’s demands as it cries out for sustenance and nourishment.
2). As the bulimic person may show visible signs of regular vomiting – you may notice some of the following:
a) It is important for bulimics to purge their food immediately after eating. So anyone habitually disappearing into the bathroom or toilet straight after meals may be going to purge.
b) Dental problems may become apparent – particularly pronounced tooth decay or very bad breath smelling of vomit or bile.
This damage is caused by the acid in vomit which will attack teeth and disrupt general oral health.
You may notice that hard skin starts to appear on their knuckles. This is caused by repeatedly pushing their fingers down their throat to induce vomiting.
3). Anyone serious about forcing their body to vomit out undigested food will possibly be using an emetic called Ipecac.
Ipecac syrup made from the root of this South American plant is very effective in causing the digestive system to throw out its contents.
You may find a hidden supply of this aid to vomiting at the back of a drawer or cupboard.
4). As with Ipecac – you might also be looking for a supply of drugs, pills or potions designed to assist with constipation.
Regular emptying of the bowels is an additional bulimic obsession in the belief that this will help prevent absorption of nourishment from any food in the body that survives the daily vomiting activities.
5). As with anorexia – you may notice significant interest in going to the gym or going jogging. The wearing of a baggy track-suit is often used to maximise sweating as well as masking a thin body from public view.
6). Bulimia sufferers frequently have additional anorexic tendencies where people with this condition establish a regime of avoiding food as well as the bulimia methods of purging food that has already been eaten.
As the objective of both anorexia and bulimia is to prevent food from nourishing the body, you may be able to identify a mixture of behavioral traits.
To understand the behavioral characteristics of anorexia, you might also read the anorexia page on this site > > > “What Is Anorexia”
7). As you become awate of behavior that may indicate bulimia activity in your relative or friend – it is important that you do not allow your probing questions to be turned aside.
If you get swept aside with “It’s OK – nothing is wrong – stop worrying” as a standard response to your concerned questioning or “It’s nothing – everything is OK – I’m eating normally” – then you might want to dig a little deeper and keep an open eye.
Remember – both anorexia and bulimia are habitual killers of people of all ages – but particularly young girls between the ages of 11 and 19.
Anyone with these secretive starvation obsessions will be working hard to fend off your questions to protect the private worls they inhabit.
8). One last area you might check (if possible) is Internet browsing history on the home computer.
Due to the secrecy, many people with anorexia and bulimia go to chat rooms and contact sites where they can swap techniques with other like-minded people doing the same thing.
Much Internet activity is now carried out on cell phones (mobiles) where it may be easier to control and conceal browsing activity.