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Perfect Illusions: Eating Disorders and the Family
Eating Disorders
Bulimia Nervosa in Males
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Bulimia is a life-threatening disorder characterized by recurrent, secretive episodes of binge eating followed by self-induced vomiting or other purging methods (e.g. laxatives, diuretics, excessive exercise or fasting) in an attempt to avoid weight gain.

Behavioral Characteristics:

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating: eating an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat during a similar period of time and under similar circumstances.
  • A sense of lack of self-control during binge episodes.
  • Recurrent purging or compensatory behavior to prevent weight gain, such as secretive self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives or diuretics, fasting or compulsive exercise (possibly including excessive running, body building or weightlifting).
  • Hoarding of food, hiding food and eating in secret.
  • Frequently weighing self.
  • Preoccupation with food.
  • Focus on certain body parts; such as buttocks, thighs or stomach.
  • Disgust with body size or shape.
  • Distortion of concept of body size; feels fat even though he may be thin.
Emotional and Mental Characteristics:
  • Intense fear of becoming fat or gaining weight.
  • Performance- and appearance-oriented.
  • Works hard to please others.
  • Depression.
  • Social isolation.
  • Possible conflict over gender identity or sexual orientation.
  • Strong need to be in control.
  • Difficulty expressing feelings.
  • Feelings of worthlessness; uses weight, appearance and achievement as measures of worth.
  • Rigid, inflexible "all or nothing" thinking.
Physical Characteristics:
  • Weight fluctuations.
  • Loss of dental enamel due to self-induced vomiting.
  • Edema (fluid retention or bloating).
  • Constipation.
  • Swollen salivary glands.
  • Cardiac arrhythmia due to electrolyte imbalances.
  • Esophageal tears, gastric rupture.
  • Lack of energy, fatigue.

Provided by the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA)
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