Health

Bulimia nervosa: Overcoming over-indulgence and heal your mind

Bulimia nervosa: Overeat, feel guilty, and seek unhealthy methods to lose the “weight”. 

This is what people who suffer from bulimia nervosa feel. This is what it is all about. 

It’s a wonder how people just develop certain life issues, and not know how it started or where next it’ll lead to. Life is hard, to be honest, it’s hard on everyone. So many issues we face as humans, and we can only tap into our defense mechanism to stay alive, but sometimes…. it seems insufficient. 

Sometimes, we believe some life problems are out of our control. And though it may seem that way, remember that there is always a way. 

Key takeaway 

If you’re suffering from bulimia nervosa right now, just know that reading this article is your first step to healing! Also, if you’re suspicious of having an eating disorder, you’ll gain some clarity as well. This article will shed light on what bulimia nervosa is, its symptoms, breaking the cycle, treatment options, and much more. 

Bulimia nervosa

A person suffering from bulimia nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is a serious eating disorder, where a person eats a large amount of food in a short time (overeating), and then tries to get rid of the food and calories by vomiting, using laxatives, fasting, or excessive exercise. It’s like a cycle of overeating, and then feeling guilty, and trying to compensate by purging or other methods. This is a serious problem that can harm your body and mind over time.

People with bulimia often struggle with their self-image and may feel out of control with their eating habits. 

“I just can’t help it, I know I shouldn’t do it, but I just can’t help it!”

You know it’s not just about food; it’s also about emotions and coping mechanisms. 

Everyone has their way of dealing with problems, some decide to do hard drugs, some become addicted to alcohol, others fall into depression, some people decide to harm others or themselves, some decide to stop eating, others decide to eat any and everything.  It’s just that bad, but when there is life, there is a way.

The emotional side of bulimia nervosa 

For people dealing with bulimia, the emotional side of it is quite significant. People with bulimia often experience intense feelings of guilt, shame, and low self-esteem related to their eating behaviors. The cycle of overeating and purging can become a way to cope with emotions or stress, creating a harmful pattern that affects both physical and mental health.

It’s like I intentionally crash my car, feel guilty, get it fixed, then feel guilty for even intentionally crashing my car, end up crashing it again, and so on. It’s like a never-ending nightmare, a loop you can’t escape. 

The constant focus on food, weight, and body image can lead to a distorted view of oneself and a constant feeling of not being good enough. It’s like a rollercoaster of emotions where food becomes a way to deal with difficult feelings temporarily.

Therapy and support groups can help address these emotional aspects by providing coping strategies, building self-esteem, and exploring the underlying issues that contribute to the disorder. It’s essential to address both the physical and emotional components of bulimia to achieve lasting recovery and a healthier relationship with food and oneself.

Symptoms of bulimia nervosa

If you’re experiencing the following symptoms, you may be at risk of having an eating disorder:

Some common symptoms of bulimia nervosa include recurrent episodes of overeating 

  • feeling a lack of control during these episodes
  • feeling ashamed of eating 
  • crying after eating 
  • panic attacks when you see food (fear to eat)
  • Obsession with body weight and shape 

And compensatory behaviors such as:

  • self-induced vomiting
  • misuse of laxatives or diuretics, 
  • fasting
  • excessive exercise
  • Starving to lose “weight”

Other signs may include secrecy around eating habits, fluctuations in weight, and dental issues due to frequent vomiting.

Check Why You Need To Shift From Body Positivity To Body Neutrality.

How you can break the overeat-purge cycle

THERE IS A WAY OUT FOR YOU. 

Breaking the overeat-purge cycle can be challenging, but is possible with the right support and strategies! One helpful way is to work on developing healthier coping mechanisms for dealing with emotions and stress, instead of turning to food as a way to cope. Remember that food is not your best friend.

This is your first step to winning!

It could involve finding alternative activities that bring comfort or relaxation, such as meditation, exercise, or talking to a friend. 

It’s also important to address any underlying emotional issues through therapy or counseling. Keeping your feelings bottled up isn’t a much better option. Also, learning to recognize triggers for overeating, and finding ways to manage them can help break the cycle. Building a balanced, and regular eating pattern can also be beneficial in reducing the urge to eat too much. 

In addition, seeking support from healthcare professionals, therapists, and support groups can provide guidance and encouragement throughout your recovery process. 

Remember, it’s a journey, and progress may take time, but with dedication and support, breaking the overeeat-purge cycle is achievable. You just have to be ready to do what it takes!

Examples of healthier coping mechanisms you should try

No doubt that life can be hard, and we will need ways to cope so we don’t fall off the edge. For a person suffering from bulimia, your constant go-to is food and mostly unhealthy ones. However, you can change the game, as they are healthier coping mechanisms that make a big difference in freeing you. 

Some examples include:

  • Practicing mindfulness, and deep breathing to help manage stress and emotions.
  • Engaging in physical activities like yoga or going for a walk to release tension.
  • Journaling to express feelings and thoughts.
  • Reaching out to a trusted friend or therapist for support and guidance. 

And for your diet:

  • Focus on eating fruits and vegetables.
  • Intentionally buy healthier snacks at the grocery store.
  • Portion control your meals. 
  • Avoid snacking and watching a movie or TV show.

In addition, finding activities that bring you joy and relaxation can help shift your focus away from food as a coping mechanism. It’s all about finding what works best for you and creating a toolbox of strategies to turn to in challenging moments.

6 ways to deal with food if you’re suffering from bulimia nervosa

Food is one of the key issues in people suffering from bulimia, however, you can find ways around it, and heal. 

Don’t be afraid of food 

People suffering from eating disorders tend to be frightful towards food, and the sight of it. However, you don’t have to be. Food is not your enemy, it’s how you treat it that matters. Healthy eating is the way to always keep things balanced.

Read how to eat healthy here 

You’re in control 

Bulimia sufferers are always scared and believe they are not in control, which leads to them not being in control at the end of the day. However, know in this moment that you are in control, you have to believe that. You’re the higher power, the pacesetter, the overcomer, you make the RULES. Hunny, you’re the boss! Understanding that you’re in charge can help you be more in control of your emotions, which can help keep you away from the cycle. True that it is not easy, you’re going to be challenged, but remember that the only challenge is YOU, and only YOU can change that. 

Stop thinking about weight loss 

Weight loss is great, yes, but should it be obsessed about? NO. There is no need to think about weight loss every single moment of your day, don’t you think there are more important things to do? If you wish to lose weight well, don’t end up making everything about it, including your food, cause it’s going to trigger you. 

Set the time and place to workout 

Organize how you want to exercise and decide the time and place to do it. It shouldn’t be what you want to do after eating something. When you plan your workout sessions, it’ll help you think less about it, especially after eating. Once you know when it’s time to work out, you’ll start feeling more confident about your body. 

It’s okay to miss a few workouts 

Okay, you missed Wednesday and Thursday, so what? You can just work out on Friday evening or the weekend. Even if you didn’t do anything during the week, avoid blaming yourself or overthinking. Just tell yourself okay well next week here we come. Having a simple way of thinking can go a long way in life. 

Have fun with your diet and exercise journey 

Now you’re trying to eat healthy, now you’re trying to exercise safely, great. Enjoy the journey, look forward to seeing how things go, and don’t expect failure or put pressure on yourself as you progress. Just have fun with it all. See every setback as part of the process, not an opportunity to diss yourself. 

It’s okay to eat some sweets 

The guilt you let yourself feel after eating something you deem unhealthy is what makes bulimia nervosa thrive. Avoid feeling shameful or guilty about eating some pizza, ice cream, or fries. This is how you’ll start to build yourself up again. Always remember that it’s not always about what you eat, but how much you eat. If you want to buy something special, buy it, eat and enjoy it without worrying about it. What’s important is that you understand how to balance it all. 

What treatment options are available for bulimia?

Treatment options for bulimia nervosa typically involve a combination of therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy, nutritional counseling, and sometimes medication. Therapy helps address the underlying issues contributing to their eating disorder, while nutritional counseling focuses on establishing healthy eating patterns. In addition, medication may be prescribed to manage any co-occurring conditions like depression or anxiety.

How does therapy help with bulimia recovery?

Therapy plays a crucial role in bulimia recovery by providing a safe space to explore, and address the underlying emotional issues that contribute to the disorder. Through therapy, you can learn healthier coping mechanisms, develop a more positive self-image, and remove negative thoughts, and beliefs about food and your body image. Therapists would also be able to identify triggers for overeat-purge behaviors and work on helping patients build skills to manage these triggers effectively. Overall, therapy offers support, guidance, and tools to navigate the recovery journey and establish a healthier relationship with food and oneself.

What are the long-term effects of bulimia nervosa?

Long-term effects of bulimia nervosa can include electrolyte imbalances, gastrointestinal issues, dental problems, heart complications, and mental health concerns like depression and anxiety. This is why you need to address it through proper treatment and support to prevent further health complications.

How to support someone with bulimia nervosa 

To support someone with bulimia, it’s important to be understanding, non-judgmental,  and encouraging. You can encourage them to seek professional help, listen to them without criticism, and avoid commenting on their appearance or eating habits. Don’t force them, or make it about you, please don’t. Help them understand that you wish for them to become better. Let them know you care about them and are there to support them through their recovery journey. 

Also, remember, that supporting someone with an eating disorder can be challenging, so taking care of yourself during the process is important.

FAQs on bulimia nervosa

Can bulimia nervosa happen to anyone?

Bulimia can affect anyone of any gender, age, or background. It is a serious mental health condition that can impact anyone, regardless of their where they are.

What should I do if I suspect my child is suffering from bulimia nervosa?

If you’re noticing some symptoms of bulimia in your child, you can try to handle the situation yourself. Such as:

  • offering emotional support
  • taking their triggers into account
  • create a meal for your child
  • offer healthier coping strategies for them
  • avoid controlling them
  • always praise them for small achievements 
  • do not show signs of strain (always be cheerful)
  • create fun activities to do with them.

It’ll be challenging to deal with bulimia, no lies, but you can make it work. If you need support from family and friends, let them know. With that said, you can always seek professional assistance if things don’t seem to work. 

Can bulimia reoccur even if the person was treated?

Sadly yes it can. Bulimia can reoccur even after treatment, it’s like weight loss, and you have to maintain it after losing it.  It’s important for people who have been treated for bulimia to continue practicing healthy coping mechanisms, attend follow-up appointments with healthcare professionals, and seek support if they notice any signs of a relapse. Recovery from bulimia can be a journey, and ongoing self-care and support are crucial in maintaining progress and preventing a recurrence.

How can I best support a loved one recovering from bulimia?

Supporting a loved one recovering from bulimia involves showing understanding, patience, and empathy. Encouraging them to attend therapy sessions, practicing active listening, avoiding judgment, and being there to offer emotional support are all important ways to help them on their journey to recovery. Additionally, educating yourself about bulimia and its effects can also aid in providing effective support to your loved one. It’s crucial to communicate openly and compassionately and to be a source of encouragement and positivity throughout their recovery process.

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