6 Signs of Bulimia


Woman looking at dessert

Bulimia is a severe psychological condition which causes a person to have inappropriate binge eating habits, then use measures to avoid gaining weight such as purging or excessive exercising.  The exact causes of bulimia are unknown, but are thought to be a reaction to stress, trauma, poor self-esteem, or attempting to maintain a profession which focuses on appearance.  Bulimia correlates closely with addiction, and those who have it say they feel like they lose control in the moments leading to a binge eating episode, similar to the way an addict loses self-control before using.  A person with bulimia will experience a positive mood shift when they eat, which provides reinforcement to continue.  Bulimia is a very private disorder, so spotting the signs can be tricky.  Here is what you should look for:

  • Broken blood vessels in the eyes.  The majority of people who are bulimic induce vomiting after binge eating episodes to avoid gaining weight.  Doing this consistently can cause blood vessels in the eyes to break, resulting in red, bloodshot eyes.
  • Swollen glands in the neck.  Vomiting on a regular basis causes a long list of health problems.  Someone who purges often will have enlarged glands in their neck from the physical strain vomiting puts on the body.
  • They smell like vomit.  It’s no surprise someone who purges habitually is going to smell like vomit.  They may attempt to hide it with mints or perfumes, but are often unsuccessful.
  • Constant weight fluctuations.  As much as they try to avoid it, a person with bulimia will have a body weight which incessantly fluctuates.  As they binge eat, then purge their food or excessively exercise, their weight will naturally waver from the inconsistency.
  • They eat in secrecy.  A individual with bulimia much prefers to eat their food in secrecy because of the way they consume it.  They may have fasted for an inappropriate amount of time or be giving in to craving, which causes them to consume very large amounts of food in a relatively short period of time.  They may have trouble eating at a normal pace, so they prefer to eat in private.
  • Frequent bathroom breaks following meals.  Due to the nature of the disorder, someone with bulimia inherently wants to remove the food they just consumed from their system, and will probably want to do so before it begins digesting.  They may constantly go to the bathroom to purge meals they just ate or could also use large amounts of laxatives or diuretics to empty their systems if food has already begun to digest.

Bulimia can be life threatening because it causes severe malnutrition.  The body is never given the ability to absorb the essential vitamins and minerals it needs to function properly.  It affects all aspects of a person’s life, including social, physical, and emotional.  Unfortunately, bulimia is quite common and can be frustrating for those dealing with it and family members alike.  Typically, underlying factors contribute to the eating disorder, and addressing those is imperative to a full recovery.  There is help available to those with bulimia to break the destructive cycle and get on a path to a healthy life.

Bulimia is often co-occurring with substance use disorders like drug addictions and alcoholism. For full recovery, treatment needs to be full service, approaching both disorders concurrently. Our multi-tiered program is designed to help your loved one find success on a new path in life through school, work, and meaningful volunteering. Structured for progress, clients at Simple Recovery transition seamlessly through each phase of their recovery.

Call us today for information: 888-743-0490