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Bulimia Nervosa

What is Bulimia Nervosa?

Often known as simply “bulimia”, this eating disorder includes regular episodes of binge eating in which a person consumes large quantities of food, continued by a follow-up phase in which one purges with laxatives or vomiting. There is a feeling of loss of control that accompanies bulimia nervosa.

Though bulimia nervosa is more common than anorexia nervosa, many people have both eating disorders. Between 1-3% of United States teenagers are affected by bulimia nervosa. If you or your loved one is struggling, know you’re not alone and that recovery is possible.


Recovery is possible with Monte Nido 

At Monte Nido, we know the importance of bulimia therapy to help you or your loved one recover from your eating disorder. We have virtual, day, and residential treatment programs to help you on your recovery journey. If you need support, contact us today.

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Criteria for Bulimia Therapy

Common signs include:

  • One of the most common signs of bulimia nervosa is repeated episodes of binge eating followed by purging. In many cases, this binge eating occurs in secret and without other people present.
  • After a binge, the person often has intense feelings of regret and guilt concerning their food intake. In many cases, these binges follow periods of time when the person attempts to restrict what they eat.
  • A cyclic disorder, this period of restriction is then followed by binge eating and then purging. After purging, a person with bulimia nervosa often feels a sense of well-being and comfort. Sometimes, feelings such as intense happiness and euphoria are also present.
  • How often? On average, this cycle of binge eating episodes and related purging behaviors needs to occur at least one time per week over a period of three months in order to qualify as bulimia nervosa.
  • Weight: While a person with anorexia nervosa is often underweight, the same is not necessarily true with those who have bulimia nervosa. This can sometimes make it difficult for others to notice if a person has this eating disorder because it is not as physically obvious. Both bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa often have a strong genetic connection. Bulimia nervosa, however, does not occur only in conjunction with episodes of anorexia nervosa.

Signs That Bulimia Treatment Is Needed

Sigs that a person may have bulimia nervosa include:

  • Binge eating in secret
  • Visiting the restroom right after eating in order to vomit
  • Taking laxatives, diet pills or diuretics in order to purge
  • Harsh exercise regimes
  • Mood swings, fatigue, a fear of not being able to stop eating on their own
  • Swollen glands and weight fluctuations typically between 10 and 15 pounds

Sometimes it can be difficult for those people who are close to a person with bulimia nervosa to notice a problem. Though they might be of a normal weight, a person with bulimia nervosa feels overweight and sees themselves as such. Some signs that might be visible to family, friends, coworkers or school personnel include purchasing large quantities of food that disappear quickly or suddenly eating large quantities of food, empty packages of medications such as diuretics, diet pills, emetics and/or laxatives in the trash, regularly going to the restroom immediately after eating and spending a great deal of time exercising.

Food Rituals and Other Behaviors to Look For

The development of food rituals — in which a person eats only a certain type of food or food group, for example — along with being uncomfortable while eating around other people, fear of eating in public, skipping meals, drinking large amounts of water and stealing or hoarding food are all signs that those people who are close to the person with bulimia nervosa might notice. In addition to creating rituals with food itself, a person who needs bulimia treatment might also schedule her life and/or activities to make time for bingeing and purging, might dress in baggy clothes to hide her body, might diet frequently, could have extreme mood swings and withdraw from friends and activities she once enjoyed.