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Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder in which the individual eats a large amount of food (which is called “bingeing”), and then does extreme things to get rid of the food, such as vomiting, taking laxatives, or participating in extreme exercises to rid the body of the over-consumption of food and calories (which is also known as “purging”). Bulimia usually affects females starting as early as nine and sometimes does not manifest itself until early adulthood.

Although girls and women typically become bulimic, boys and men can develop the disorder as well. Bulimics may consume as many as 20,000 calories in one sitting, and then take drastic measures to rid their bodies of the extreme amounts of food ingested. This type of behavior usually happens several times a week, and becomes a dangerous cycle if not addressed and treated.

Causes of Bulimia Nervosa

Although doctors and specialist do not know the exact cause of Bulimia, there are many factors that can lead to the onset of Bulimia. Genetics have been known to be a contributor to bulimia. Often times, mothers and their daughter/s will all suffer with bulimia. Other factors such as peer pressure, poor self-esteem, and the media’s influence can all lead to the development of bulimia. A young mother shared her personal story with us:

“I remember distinctly turning fourteen and reaching puberty. This was a turning point in my life because suddenly I became aware of my body and was constantly comparing it to my sister’s and friend’s bodies. I was never completely satisfied with the way I looked, but it never stopped me from eating the foods I loved or doing anything drastic to change my appearance throughout my high school years. I remember, however, during my college years, I started gaining a few pounds.

I became frantic one morning when my pants didn’t fit just right. I remember distinctly one morning sitting in my parent’s room watching T.V. and deciding that I wasn’t going to eat that day. By the end of the night, I felt great! I was proud of myself and the self control I was exhibiting. I decided I would do the same thing the next day. I felt pretty good that next night, considering I hadn’t eaten for two straight days. By the third day, I was starving. It was my brother’s birthday that day, and to celebrate, we had cake and ice cream. I decided to end my fast and eat a serving of dessert.

However, when the party was over and everyone was gone, I didn’t stop eating. I continued to eat the rest of the cake, and ended up eating the whole entire thing. I was mortified. I felt completely sick, guilty and ashamed. I knew I had to take immediate action. Being a runner, I went out for a five-mile run, and then came home and took laxatives before bed. I vowed I wouldn’t eat for the next few days. So, for the next two days, I didn’t eat anything. And then, as one might guess, by the third day I was starving, and I binged again. The cycle started and I fell into a dangerous trap that drastically started affecting my health.

I binged and purged (by exercising and abusing laxatives) at least twice a week. It was a long, hard year as I was working hard in my college classes trying to pull good grades. Thanks to supportive parents and doctors, I was able to overcome this extreme behavior. Now, as a mother, I am still very conscious of my body and how I look, but thankfully, I feel I have conquered my struggle with Bulimia.

Treatment for Bulimia Nervosa

There is help and treatment that can be offered to individuals suffering with bulimia. Professionals such as nutritionists, counselors, and eating disorder specialists can counsel and guide bulimics down the road of recovery. Medications such as antidepressants are available to help individuals refrain from binge eating. Medications can also help with the depression that so often accompanies bulimia. Supportive friends and family are critical as one battles through their fight with bulimia. There is hope and healing for those struggling with bulimia. It is a disorder that can be defeated!

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