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10 Common Symptoms of Bulimia


Bulimia is an eating disorder focused on binging and other methods to avoid gaining weight, such as purging, fasting and exercise. Bulimia is a serious condition that can be life-threatening. Both males and females can suffer from bulimia.

Bulimia is common, with more than 200,00 cases diagnosed each year in the United States. Treatment of symptoms can include counseling/therapy, medications, and nutrition education.

Symptom 1: Obsessed

Are you obsessed with your weight? What you eat? Are you constantly weighing yourself to see if you lost or gained weight? You are obsessed, and that is part of bulimia.

Bulimia is a psychological illness and a mental-emotional problem.

Symptom 2: Binge Eating

Do you have a love/hate relationship with food? You love to eat it, but hate gaining weight or being fat?

Binge eating is where you rapidly eat a massive amount of food. But then you feel guilty or shameful, so you purge or vomit the food. You have lost control.

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Symptom 3: Losing Control

When you eat, do you lose control and overeat? Eating disorders, like bulimia, are not really about being thin. Instead, it’s all about fear and control.

In a Huffington Post article, Skyla Liberty Rose sated: “For years I obsessed about presenting myself in the right light to the world. When I was younger I yearned to have straight hair and a prettier face. I felt like I didn’t ‘fit’ in terms of looks or clothes or anything else that I thought mattered. I had an envy of the other girls who I saw get favoured looks from the boys I wanted to like me. I changed what I could and when I couldn’t go any further I sought to control the areas that I had some charge over. I couldn’t change my face, but I could control my food intake. It’s a tradeoff that only makes sense to anyone who has ever had an unhealthy relationship with food.”

Symptom 4: Misuse of Laxatives

Do you use laxatives to lose or maintain your weight? While bulimia usually centers on self-induced vomiting, abuse of laxatives is a form of purging.

According to Eatingdisorderhope.com, “Instead of ridding the body of food and calories, like many think, laxatives leech the body of water, minerals, electrolytes, and indigestible wastes from the colon. Basically, laxatives shed ‘water weight, which immediately returns when we drink fluids and rehydrate. But laxatives lure people in because they temporarily make the body feel lighter, ‘thin,’ or ‘empty,’ but after hydration, that feeling, craved by many with an eating disorder, is gone. So, it’s back to the laxatives. Eventually the colon builds a tolerance to the laxatives, and it needs more laxatives to achieve a bowel movement.”

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Symptom 5: Vomiting

Do you make yourself vomit or purge what you ate to lose or maintain your weight? Binging and then purging is a vicious cycle.

Besides self-induced purging, those with bulimia may also use laxatives, diuretics, or enemas.

Symptom 6: Excessive Exercise

Do you exercise after eating? Even if you are not feeling well or injured? Do you skip special occasions with loved ones to exercise? Do you get mad when your exercise routine is interrupted?

With bulimia, excessive exercising is a form of purging. You are getting rid of the calories you ate by exercising like a maniac!

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Symptom 7: Fasting

Do you avoid eating to avoid gaining weight? Do you feel better when you fast? Do you restrict yourself to coffee and carrots?

According to Psychforums.com, one sufferer stated: “I almost posted in the binge eating section ... because that is what I do. I binge eat. I don't purge. However, I do fast. 3 days is a norm for me. My fasts usually involve coffee and maybe a couple drinks in the evening. Sometimes I don't fast, but usually I do, because normally it's the only way I can end the binge. I'd rather end the binge by just going back to normal eating, but it doesn't work. It slips back into a binge. Only when I fast does the binge stop. And sometimes I feel like I am bingeing and not enjoying it ... I am just doing it to find an excuse to fast! Because when I fast I feel safe from food, but you can't fast indefinitely usually. I've made it 10 days before. Not so fun, and I am very athletic, so it harmed my competitive athletic endeavors. The binges are usually 1-3 days, 1-3 times a month. So, I don't feel like they are ruining my life. But the fact that they are so regular ... it really gets my self-esteem down and makes me feel out of control ... and worse, like I NEED to binge and can't stop. It frustrates me that my weight stays the same always, too. I'm 125 lbs and 5'3". My body has fully adjusted to this sort of behavior it seems. But anyway, there is so little literature on bingeing and fasting. Most is focused on purging (something I do not do and can't do). Does anybody else here use fasting or restricting instead of purging?”

Symptom 8: Heartburn

Do you have heartburn? Are you constipated? Stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea, or acid reflux?

Bulimia can cause such gastrointestinal and digestive tract problems.

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Symptom 9: Fatigue

Are you overly tired? Have no energy? Bulimia takes its toll on your body. It is draining because you are draining calories and nutrition out of your body to avoid gaining weight.

According to Mirror-mirror.org, “Bulimia causes generalized muscle weakness and overall fatigue. People with bulimia may lack the energy for daily activities and may became lethargic and withdrawn.”

Symptom 10: Mouth

Do you have bad breath? Tend to get cavities? Is your mouth dry? Bulimia affects your whole body, especially your mouth and teeth.

According to Colgate, “The negative effects of vitamin and nutrient deficiencies will also be reflected in the mouth. Furthermore, for those who purge by vomiting, stomach acids will cause damage to the teeth. The telltale oral signs of eating disorders include: Dry mouth and enlarged salivary glands; Cracked, dry lips and mouth sores; Teeth erosion; and Cold and hot sensitivity in teeth.”

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