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Bulimia Nervosa (Binge eating and purging)

What is bulimia?

Bulimia (bingeing and purging) is a psychosomatic illness which is common amongst women, but becoming more and more common amongst men. Bulimics usually have inner conflicts. On the one hand they have a desperate desire to be thin and on the other hand the food acts as a sort of temporary comfort to deal with the internal conflicts, fears and pressure.

Those suffering from bulimia usually eat large amounts of food and then immediately and intentionally vomit before the food is digested.

Bulimia is a "secret" illness in most cases as it does not necessarily attract attention like anorexia or obesity. Those who are bulimic usually have a normal weight.

Bulimics are usually very sensitive and achievement-oriented people with a low self-esteem. Feelings of failure and physical problems accumulate and usually lead to depression.

Health problems caused by bulimia

In addition to the emotional problems and the bad eating habits, regular vomiting can be harmful to the digestive tract. The vomiting of food and stomach acids damages the teeth, the oesophagus and the body's water supply. Furthermore the food in the stomach stimulates the rest of the digestive system. If, however, food does not reach the intestines over a longer period of time, the regulatory mechanism is affected in such a way that normal digestion and absorption of minerals becomes very difficult.

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How common is bulimia?

Bulimia is common amongst those aged between 15 and 30. 85 % of the cases are women. According to estimates from the Max-Planck Institute in Munich, 8% of women have bulimia. The percentage for younger women is a lot higher. The number of new incidents is constantly increasing.

How can bulimia be treated?

Treating bulimia involves the following points (amongst others):

  • Improving self-esteem and independence
  • Developing strategies to help overcome and deal with stress, frustration and other problems
  • Learning how to constructively deal with feelings
  • Learning/remembering how to enjoy eating food

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Overcoming Bulimia: Your Comprehensive, Step-By-Step Guide to Recovery  


Brain over Binge: Why I Was Bulimic, Why Conventional Therapy Didn't Work, and How I Recovered for Good, Kathryn Hansen Kathryn

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