Signs, Symptoms, Treatment, and
What is bulimia?
Once again, Amy is on a liquid diet. "I’m going to
stick with it,” she tells herself. "I won’t give in to the cravings
this time.” But as the day goes on, Amy’s willpower weakens. All she
can think about is food. Finally, she decides to give in to the urge to
binge. She can’t control herself any longer. She grabs a pint of ice
cream out of the freezer, inhaling it within a matter of minutes. Then
it’s on to anything else she can find in the kitchen.
After 45 minutes of bingeing, Amy is so stuffed
that her stomach feels like it’s going to burst. She’s disgusted with
herself and terrified by the thousands of calories she’s consumed. She
runs to the bathroom to throw up. Afterwards, she steps on the scale to
make sure she hasn’t gained any weight. She vows to start her diet
again tomorrow. Tomorrow, it will be different.
Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized
by frequent episodes of binge eating, followed by frantic efforts to
avoid gaining weight.
When you’re struggling with bulimia, life is a
constant battle between the desire to lose weight or stay thin and the
overwhelming compulsion to binge eat.
You don’t want to binge—you know you’ll feel guilty
and ashamed afterwards—but time and again you give in. During an
average binge, you may consume from 3,000 to 5,000 calories in one
After it ends, panic sets in and you turn to drastic
measures to "undo” the binge, such as taking ex-lax, inducing
vomiting, or going for a ten-mile run. And all the while, you feel
increasingly out of control.
It’s important to note that bulimia doesn’t
necessarily involve purging—physically eliminating the food from your
body by throwing up or using laxatives, enemas, or diuretics. If you
make up for your binges by fasting, exercising to excess, or going on
crash diets, this also qualifies as bulimia.