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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Weight fluctuations.
- Loss of dental enamel due to self-induced vomiting.
- Edema (fluid retention or bloating).
- 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)