People with bulimia nervosa consume large amounts of food and then rid their bodies of the excess calories by vomiting, abusing laxatives or diuretics, enemas, or exercising obsessively. Some use a combination of all of these forms of purging.
Because many individuals with bulimia "binge and purge" in secret and maintain normal or above normal body weight, they can often successfully hide their problem from others for years. When this activity occurs on average at least twice a week for three months, and is also accompanied by excessive concern about body shape and weight, concern about bulimia nervosa is warranted. Dieting heavily between episodes of bingeing and purging is common. Eventually half of those with anorexia will develop bulimia.
As with anorexia, bulimia typically begins during adolescence. The condition occurs most often in women, but is also found in men. Many individuals with bulimia, ashamed of their strange habits, do not seek help until they reach their 30s or 40s. By this time, their eating behavior is deeply ingrained and more difficult to change.
If you fall into any of these descriptions for eating disorders, do not hesitate to contact your physician or a counselor. If you have friends who might have an eating disorder, please encourage them to seek help -- you may save a life!
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Material taken from the National Women's Health Information Center. Accessed April 2013.
Bulimia information from the National Institute of Mental Health. Accessed April 2013.