What is Bulimia

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by a cycle of bingeing and purging that can have serious physical and psychological effects. During a bingeing episode, a person with bulimia nervosa consumes large quantities of food. Purging refers to self-induced vomiting or the misuse of medications that cause temporary weight loss.

6 Signs & Symptoms

Fear Associated With Eating

People with bulimia may develop a fear of food or worry they won’t be able to stop eating.

Unusual Rituals Around Food

Some people develop food-related rituals, such as eating foods in a particular order, cutting food into tiny bites, or taking food apart before eating.

Obsession With Food and Weight

A person with bulimia is more likely to become obsessed with their weight & overall appearance. They may weigh themselves several times a day or severely restrict their caloric intake.

Reduced Energy

Frequent fasting, laxative abuse, and other aspects of bulimia nervosa can lead to reduced energy levels.

Poor Self-Esteem

People with bulimia may develop low self-esteem due to their preoccupation with weight and appearance.

Excessive Exercise

Some individuals engage in excessive exercise to counteract the effects of binge eating which may lead to physical injuries or an unsafe amount of weight loss.

Do I Have an Eating Disorder?

Are you concerned about your eating habits or preoccupation with food and weight?
Click below to take our eating disorders quiz.

Treatment Options for Bulimia Nervosa

Psychotherapy, nutrition education, medications and hospitalization are the most common eating disorder treatment options.

  • Psychotherapy allows you to talk to a professional about bulimia and discuss any other mental health concerns you have. The first time you meet, a therapist will ask questions to learn more about you and determine the most effective type of psychotherapy. Many therapists use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help patients with bulimia improve their eating habits and learn how to overcome unhealthy thoughts related to food and body weight.
  • Medications may be used to manage symptoms of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Many eating disorder treatment centers recommend selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to reduce bingeing and purging behavior, depression and anxiety.
  • Nutrition counseling is designed to help improve your relationship with food whether you have bulimia nervosa or another eating disorder. If your treatment team believes nutrition counseling is appropriate, you’ll meet with a dietitian to discuss nutrition, body image, and other health-related topics.
  • Inpatient or residential treatment is recommended if the symptoms of bulimia are severe. When you arrive at a treatment center, you’ll undergo a thorough assessment to identify your most pressing physical and psychological needs. You’ll also have access to a treatment team of doctors, dietitians, nurses, and other health care professionals. While in residential treatment, you may receive psychotherapy, group counseling, nutritional therapy, and other services.

Luxury Treatment for Bulimia Nervosa

We take a holistic approach to treating bulimia using evidence-based methods to help you develop a better relationship with food and break the cycle of bingeing and purging. We aim to help you stabilize your eating patterns, learn how to follow a healthy meal plan, and pay attention to your body’s natural hunger signals.

Featured Articles

Frequently Asked Questions

Approximately 0.3% of adults in the United States have bulimia nervosa, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The median age of onset is 18 years old, and bulimia nervosa is five times more common in women than in men. Hispanic people also have a higher risk of developing bulimia nervosa than their non-Hispanic peers.

Bingeing and purging can have serious health consequences and without proper treatment, individuals have a heightened risk of the following:

  • Dehydration: Diuretics and laxatives cause the body to excrete more fluid than usual. If too much fluid is lost, you may experience symptoms of dehydration, such as headaches, dizziness, low blood pressure, increased heart rate, and dark urine.
  • Heart problems: Excessive exercise, frequent fasting, and abuse of laxatives and diuretics increase the risk of heart failure, abnormal heart rhythms, and other heart problems.
  • Digestive problems: Bulimia nervosa affects your eating habits, which may lead to constipation, diarrhea and other digestive issues.
  • Dental problems: Vomit is highly acidic, so frequent vomiting wears away the protective coating of your teeth (enamel), leading to tooth decay and other dental problems.

Substance abuse: Poor self-esteem, depression, or anxiety may encourage people to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs.

Bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder have several symptoms in common, however, the main difference is that binge eating disorders don’t involve purging after overeating.

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder with many possible root causes including a family history of eating disorders, poor self-esteem, a history of depression or anxiety, high levels of stress, and constant dieting.

While preparing for admission to an eating disorder treatment center, you can find more information about bulimia nervosa on the National Eating Disorders Association website.