What Is Bulimia?

Today we’re diving into the meaning of Bulimia including symptoms, signs, side effects, statistics and treatment to help you or a loved one get the help needed…


What is Bulimia?

As with other eating disorders, obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours around food are the characteristics of Bulimia.

If you’re suffering from this illness, you will usually be trapped within a binge-purge cycle of overeating and self-induced vomiting. Furthermore, you might find yourself drawn to other harmful behaviours such as drug and alcohol abuse or damaging relationships.

Sufferers of Bulimia experience a deep sense of shame which often stops them from reaching out and asking for help. Many wonder who they would be without their illness and how they would cope without it.

If you struggle with Bulimia or know someone who does, you may not know where to turn for help and support. But this is a serious and potentially life-threatening illness and as soon as you have recognised that there is a problem, you need to act fast.


Why do people suffer from Bulimia?

Bulimia and other eating disorders are generally associated with people who have low self-esteem and feelings of self-loathing. It is common among high achieving individuals who have an obsessive desire to seek perfection.


How can we help you beat Bulimia?

 At The Recover Clinic we understand just how frightening and overwhelming it can be to take the first steps towards recovery, but we are here to guide you through those difficult times and help you find the best course of treatment, for you or for your loved one.

Bulimia Treatment 

There is no off-the-shelf Bulimia treatment as we always tailor our eating disorder programs to you as an individual. This is because we know that eating disorders are illnesses that begin in the mind, not the body.

Once you have had an initial assessment, our team of counsellors can help you stop your bulimic patterns and find a program that works for you. This could involve referral to a residential eating disorder clinic, outpatient treatment with our Bulimia counselling team, one-to-one therapy or a combination of our Eating Disorder Therapy Groups.


What are the symptoms of Bulimia?

The symptoms of Bulimia can be easier to hide than those of Anorexia – where restricting food can dramatically affect the appearance of the sufferer. Bulimics can often be normal weight because of the binge/purge cycle of the illness. These are the signs to watch out for:

Behavioural symptoms of Bulimia

  • Binge eating (eating large amounts of food)
  • Purging after bingeing
  • Abusing laxatives or diuretics
  • Disappearing after meal times (to the bathroom)
  • Excessive exercising
  • Obsession with appearance/body shape
  • Frequently comparing body image to others
  • Hides the body with baggy clothes
  • Overachieving behaviours
  • Guilt, secrecy, shame
  • Alcohol/drug abuse
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Social withdrawal
  • Sexual promiscuity
  • Hoarding food or Kleptomania (stealing)

Physical symptoms of Bulimia

  • Eroded tooth enamel
  • A ‘puffy chipmunk’ face
  • Scarred hands and knuckles
  • Noticeable fluctuations in weight (both up and down)
  • Poor complexion
  • Calluses on hands if fingers are used to cause vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling cold all the time

Do I have Bulimia?

Take a look at the symptoms above and the following questions. If you answer yes to any of them, then you may well have a problem with Bulimia. Get in touch to find out how we can help you.

Do you….

  • find your mood is affected dramatically by how much you weigh?
  • lose control over how much you are eating?
  • switch between periods of overeating and fasting?
  • over-spend on food or steal food?
  • ever make yourself sick after eating?
  • hear your friends and family voice concerns about your weight or eating habits?
  • get obsessive about what is in food and calories?
  • feel uncomfortable eating around others?
  • suffer from thinning hair, worn dental enamel, hypoglycemia or osteoporosis?
  • get extremely anxious about gaining any weight?
  • use laxatives, diuretics or enemas to lose weight?
  • suffer from stomach pains/problems, bloating or constipation?
  • have enlarged salivary glands?
  • if female, no longer get your period?
What are the side effects of Bulimia?

This is a summary of the side effects of Bulimia. They are very similar to the side effects of Anorexia.

Medical side effects of Bulimia

  • Dehydration (which can lead to kidney failure)
  • Hormone imbalance (which can cause fertility problems)
  • Tears in the throat and on the oesophagus
  • Gastric rupture (the stomach can tear)
  • Internal bleeding
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Heart palpitations
  • Fatigue
  • Arrhythmia
  • Bowel problems
  • Seizures
  • Muscle cramps

Emotional and psychological effects of Bulimia

  • Poor concentration
  • Short attention span
  • Irritability
  • Depression/Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia
  • Low confidence and self-esteem
  • Extremely self-critical
  • Fear of gaining weight
  • Distorted and excessively negative perception of own body image
  • Loss of control over eating
  • Strong need for approval
Statistics about Bulimia
  • 5 to 15 percent of people with Bulimia are male
  • Between 1 and 3 percent of young women are thought to be bulimic at any given time
  • Approximately 1-2 percent of women in the UK suffer from Bulimia
  • Approximately 5 percent of Bulimia sufferers go on to develop Anorexia Nervosa
  • Cases of Bulimia Nervosa are rarely seen in people under the age of 13
  • Finally, people who have close relatives with Bulimia are four times more likely to develop the disease than people who do not


Don’t suffer in silence

Call our team today for help and advice on 0845 603 6530 or fill in our short contact form.


Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

Posted in , by The Recover Clinic