Bulimia Nervosa – Disorder Of Nutrition Involving Bingeing And Purging

Bulimia nervosa is a disorder of binge eating and then purging which was once thought to only affect young women in their twenties or thirties who are unmarried and sexually active, the disease was first recognized as a disease of young white women but now can affect just about anyone, males and females, the very young and the elderly. The disease now reaches across races and socioeconomic groups. The disorder is still primarily a female disorder with those affected being about 90% female. Those with the disorder generally have a normal weight unlike anorexics that are abnormally thin.


Bulimia is not just a disease of nutrition involving binging and purging however, it is also a psychiatric disorder that requires treatment to get at the underlying reasons for the behaviors that result in the disease.

Like anorexia those who become bulimic are obsessed with societal views of women and thinness, these individuals are said by psychiatrists who treat them to have not received sufficient nurturing in their earlier years

Other reasons for becoming bulimic are thought to be a distorted view of an individual’s self perceived body image, pressures from society to fit a perceived ideal way of looking, binge eating for emotional comfort, purging as a form of weight management, and a need to feel that one has control over one’s life.

Warning Signs

• Uncontrollable eating or bingeing

• Strict dieting, fasting, vigorous exercise, vomiting, using laxatives or diuretics in an attempt to lose weight

• Frequent trips to the bathroom after meals

• A preoccupation with weight

• Symptoms of depression or mood swings

• Irregular menstrual periods

• Dental problems

• Swollen cheeks or glands

• Bloating or heartburn

• Personal or family problems with drugs or alcohol

Unlike anorexics who have a lot of rigidly defined roles and rules in their families, those with bulimia have families that lack structure, with parents being cold or distant and judgmental, there are significant family conflicts, with the bulimic individual feeling that their family failed to provide enough security and protection for them.

Treatment for Bulimia Nervosa

Because those with bulimia recognize their behavior as abnormal unlike anorexics, it is believed that bulimia is easier to treat.

Some of the treatments include cognitive behavior therapy to help the patient reshape their thinking and attitudes about food and to recognize when situations arise that can cause bingeing behavior. Because many of those with the disorder suffer from depression and substance abuse as well medication may be added to the treatment regimen.

A certain percentage of those with bulimia nervosa, about 30% eventually become free of symptoms, while others deal with the disease throughout their lives and have to work hard to prevent relapse. It is considered important by those that treat the disease for those with bulimia to remain a part of a support group to help them to cope with the disorder.

For more information about bulimia nervosa click on the link to womenshealth.gov


Binge Eating Disorder - Compulsive Overeating

For other information on nutrition some great references are:

• Nutrition – Fourth Edition by Paul Insel, Don Ross, Kimberley McMahon, and Melissa Bernstein

Nutrition Eating Disorders
Anorexia Nervosa
Exercise and Vitamins
Nutrition and Exercise
Cooking and Nutrition
Nutrients In Food
Energy From Food
Water and Nutrition
Dietary Minerals
Cooking Recipes
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