What is Bulimia?

Bulimia is characterised by re-current binge eating episodes (the consumption of abnormal amount of foods in short period of time) associated with a sense of loss of control and immediately followed by feelings of guilt and shame. This leads to compensatory behaviour such as self-induced vomiting, fasting, over-exercising, and/or misuse of laxatives or diuretics. Person with bulimia usually maintain an average weight of maybe slightly above or below the average weight for height.

What are the symptoms of Bulimia

Recurrent episodes of binge eating. Episodes of binge eating is characterised by the following:

  • Eating, in discrete periods of time, an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat during a similar period of time and under similar circumstances.
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    • A sense of lack of control over eating during the episodes: a feeling that one can not stop eating or control over what or how much one is eating.
    • Recurrent inappropriate compensatory behavior in order to prevent weight gain such as self induced vomiting, misused of laxatives, diuretics, enemas or other medications, long period of fasting or excessive exercise.
    • Binge eating and inappropriate compensatory behavior occur, on average, at least twice a week for a period of three months.
    • Self-evaluation is overly influenced by body shape and weight.

    What are the Health Concerns for Those Suffering from Bulimia?

    The recurrent binge-and-purge cycles of bulimia can affect the entire digestive system and can lead to electrolyte and chemical imbalances in the body that affect the heart and other major organ functions.

    Some of the health consequences of bulimia nervosa include:

    • Electrolyte imbalances that can lead to irregular heartbeats and possibly heart failure and death.
    • Electrolyte imbalance is caused by dehydration and loss of potassium, sodium and chloride from the body as a result of purging behaviours.
    • Gastric rupture during periods of bingeing.
    • Inflammation and possible rupture of the esophagus from frequent vomiting.
    • Tooth decay and staining from stomach acids released during frequent vomiting.
    • Chronic irregular bowel movements and constipation as a result of laxative abuse.
    • Peptic ulcers and pancreatitis.

    Tell me More About Binge Eating Disorders

    Binge eating is recognized as a separate disorder with its own symptoms. Like bulimia it is characterized by frequently eating excessive amounts in short period of time, often even when not hungry. Binge eating is accompanied by feelings of guilt, self-hatred, anxiety, depression or loneliness. However, those with binge eating don’t purge. Body weight may vary from average to obese.

    • Recurrent episodes of uncontrollable binge eating, including eating abnormally large amounts of food.
    • Binge eating that is associated with a least three of these factors: eating rapidly, eating until uncomfortably full, eating large amounts when not hungry, eating alone out of embarrassment, feeling disgusted, depressed or guilty after eating.
    • Distress about binge eating.
    • Binge eating occurring at least twice a week for a period of at least six months.
    • Binge eating is not associated with inappropriate methods to compensate for over-eating, such as self-induced vomiting.

    Binge eating disorder often results in many of the same health risks associated with clinical obesity.

    Some of the potential health consequences of binge eating disorder include:

    • Type II diabetes mellitus.
    • Heart disease as a result of elevated triglyceride levels.
    • High blood pressure.
    • High cholesterol levels.
    • Gallbladder disease.

    What are some of the Predisposing Factors for Bulimia?

    There is no one factor responsible for a person developing an eating disorder. Each person is subject to different internal and environmental factors which may contribute to the development of disordered eating behaviors. The most common ones are:

    • Obsessive-compulsive behavior patterns
    • Life experience which set the motion
    • Post traumatic stress
    • Social-cultural influences: fashion magazines, athletes etc.
    • Feelings of lack of control
    • Family interactions
    • Genetics
    • Substance abuse

    Personality characteristics of disordered eaters

    • Perfectionist
    • Highly-self motivated
    • Regards others opinions highly
    • Self-critical behavior
    • Very sensitive to the others opinions
    • Need for control; feels out of control
    • Low self esteem
    • Symptoms of depression
    • Kind and caring

    How Does Naturopathy Help in treatment for Bulimia?

    • Establishment and education of correct eating habits and mindful eating
    • Preventing long term health issues by restoring nutrition with a well-balance, individualized diet
    • Correcting dysfunctional behaviors and negative thinking relating to food
    • Resolving depression, anxiety and obsessive thinking
    • Reducing fears around food and weight gain
    • Cultivating positive thought about foods
    • Being able to plan meals but without it dominating your life
    • Stabilizing overeating and under eating patterns
    • restoring and controlling a healthy weight with a well-balanced diet
    • Reducing or eliminating behaviors or thoughts that originally led to the disordered eating

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