Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is a frequent and routine pattern of behavior which involves binging on a large amount of food in a short time period followed by purging via vomiting or laxatives. Individuals will generally binge on what ever food is available, it does not need to be something particularly good or enticing. They may make a special trip to the store to purchase binge foods which can makes this disorder very costly.

Discussions of binge episodes in my office include 8-12 bagels with cream cheese, bags of cooked frozen vegetables, 6-8 donuts, large bags of chips with salsa, entire box of girl scout cookies (this is obviously seasonal) several slices of bread and butter or excessive amounts of grahm crackers or saltines. This food is consumed with no connection to hunger or fullness — it is all about the emotions and feelings of the moment.

Signs of binging and purging:

  •  disappearance of large amounts of food in short time periods, evidence of food/candy wrappers or empty containers of food..
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom immediately following meals,
  •  odor of vomitting or frequently brushing teeth to disguise the odor of vomitting ,use of breath mints,
  • purging may take place in trash bags kept in their car,stop by public restrooms or purge in the bushes outside a home.
  •  You may also notice swelling of the teeth or jaw area due to frequent vomiting.
  • Purging may be in the form of laxative abuse, or excessive exercise which are also methods to rid the body of calories.

Bulimia nervosa can be extremely harmful to your entire body. Your digestive tract will be negatively impacted from excessive food intake and recurrent purging in short time periods. Muscle spasms, esophogeal tears, abdominal bloating, cardiac arrhymthmia, kidney damage, frequent dental problems, increased cavities, loss of tooth enamel will be common.

The new DSM-V diagnostic criteria for bulimia nervosa indicates the binge eating and compensatory purging behaviors both occur on average, at least once per week for 3 months

If your binge purge behavior continues for months and months you may eventually discover your food comes up naturally and it is difficult to keep anything down. I have seen this in my practice and it is an extremely dangerous situation. Following months and years of binging/purging anything the patient tries to consume be it water, gatorade, cereal bars, chicken, fruit, vegetable all come back up within a few minutes of eating. This is very scary and frightening for the eating disorder patient to realize what they have done to their body functioning.

The first time you decide to experiment with purging following food intake — call and get help immediately. Do not let this behavior grow into a torrential monster which can consume and devour your life! cb