Health Care and Bulimia
According to the Mayo Clinic, bulimia nervosa, commonly called bulimia, is serious. People with bulimia may secretly binge — eating large amounts of food — and then purge, trying to get rid of the extra calories in an unhealthy way. For example, someone with bulimia may force vomiting or do excessive exercise. Sometimes people purge after eating only a small snack or a normal-size meal. Bulimia can be categorized in two ways:
• Purging bulimia. You regularly self-induce vomiting or misuse laxatives, diuretics or enemas after bingeing.
• Non-purging bulimia. You use other methods to rid yourself of calories and prevent weight gain, such as fasting, strict dieting, or excessive exercise.
However, these behaviors often overlap, and the attempt to rid yourself of extra calories is usually referred to as purging, no matter what the method. If you have bulimia, you're probably preoccupied with your weight and body shape, and may judge yourself severely and harshly for your self-perceived flaws. Because it's related to self-image — and not just about food — bulimia can be difficult to overcome. But effective treatment can help you feel better about yourself, adopt healthier eating patterns and reverse serious complications. More details on this disorder can be located at this site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bulimia/DS00607 .
According to this website: http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/bulimia-nervosa.cfm , bulimia is more than just a problem with food. A binge can be triggered by dieting, stress, or uncomfortable emotions, such as anger or sadness. Purging and other actions to prevent weight gain are ways for people with bulimia to feel more in control of their lives and ease stress and anxiety. There is no single known cause of bulimia, but there are some factors that may play a part:
• Culture. Women in the U.S. are under constant pressure to fit a certain ideal of beauty. Seeing images of flawless, thin females everywhere makes it hard for women to feel good about their bodies.
• Families. If you have a mother or sister with bulimia, you are more likely to also have bulimia. Parents who think looks are important, diet themselves, or criticize their children's bodies are more likely to have a child with bulimia.
• Life changes or stressful events. Traumatic events (like rape), as well as stressful things (like starting a new job), can lead to bulimia.
• Personality traits. A person with bulimia may not like herself, hate the way she looks, or feel hopeless. She may be very moody, have problems expressing anger, or have a hard time controlling impulsive behaviors.
• Biology. Genes, hormones, and chemicals in the brain may be factors in developing bulimia.
A person with bulimia may be thin, overweight, or have a normal weight, according to www.Women’sHealth.gov. Also, bulimic behavior, such as throwing up, is often done in private because the person with bulimia feels shame or disgust. This makes it hard to know if someone has bulimia. But there are warning signs to look out for. Someone with bulimia may use extreme measures to lose weight by:
• Using diet pills, or taking pills to urinate or have a bowel movement
• Going to the bathroom all the time after eating (to throw up)
• Exercising a lot, even in bad weather or when hurt or tired
Someone with bulimia may show signs of throwing up, such as:
• Swollen cheeks or jaw area
• Calluses or scrapes on the knuckles (if using fingers to induce vomiting)
• Teeth that look clear
• Broken blood vessels in the eyes
People with bulimia often have other mental health conditions, including:
• Substance abuse problems
Someone with bulimia may also have a distorted body image, shown by thinking she or he is fat, hating her or his body, and fearing weight gain. Bulimia can also cause someone to not act like her or himself. She or he may be moody or sad, or may not want to go out with friends. Visit their site for much more information about how bulimia manifests itself and how it can be treated.
If you are living with bulimia, you know how scary it feels to be so out of control. Knowing that you are harming your body just adds to the fear, according to information found at this website: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/bulimia_signs_symptoms_causes_treatment.htm . But take heart: change is possible. Regardless of how long you’ve struggled with bulimia, you can learn to break the binge and purge cycle and develop a healthier attitude toward food and your body. Taking steps toward recovery is tough. It’s common to feel ambivalent about giving up your binging and purging, even though it’s harmful. If you are even thinking of getting help for bulimia, you are taking a big step forward. Here are some steps to help with treating it:
• Admit you have a problem. Up until now, you’ve been invested in the idea that life will be better—that you’ll finally feel good—if you lose more weight and control what you eat. The first step in bulimia recovery is admitting that your relationship to food is distorted and out of control.
• Talk to someone. It can be hard to talk about what you’re going through, especially if you’ve kept your bulimia a secret for a long time. You may be ashamed, ambivalent, or afraid of what others will think. But it’s important to understand that you’re not alone. Find a good listener—someone who will support you as you try to get better.
• Stay away from people, places, and activities that trigger the temptation to binge or purge. You may need to avoid looking at fashion or fitness magazines, spend less time with friends who constantly diet and talk about losing weight, and stay away from weight loss web sites and “pro-mia” sites that promote bulimia. You may also need to be careful when it comes to meal planning and cooking magazines and shows.
• Seek professional help. The advice and support of trained eating disorder professionals can help you regain your health, learn to eat normally again, and develop healthier attitudes about food and your body.
There is therapy available, according to www.HelpGuide.org. The treatment of choice for bulimia is cognitive-behavioral therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy targets the unhealthy eating behaviors of bulimia and the unrealistic, negative thoughts that fuel them. Here’s what to expect in bulimia therapy:
• Breaking the binge-and-purge cycle – The first phase of bulimia treatment focuses on stopping the vicious cycle of bingeing and purging and restoring normal eating patterns. You learn to monitor your eating habits, avoid situations that trigger binges, cope with stress in ways that don’t involve food, eat regularly to reduce food cravings, and fight the urge to purge.
• Changing unhealthy thoughts and patterns – The second phase of bulimia treatment focuses on identifying and changing dysfunctional beliefs about weight, dieting, and body shape. You explore attitudes about eating, and rethink the idea that self-worth is based on weight.
• Solving emotional issues – The final phase of bulimia treatment involves targeting emotional issues that caused the eating disorder in the first place. Therapy may focus on relationship issues, underlying anxiety and depression, low self-esteem, and feelings of isolation and loneliness.
If you suspect that your friend or family member has bulimia, talk to the person about your concerns. Your loved one may deny bingeing and purging, but there’s a chance that he or she will welcome the opportunity to open up about the struggle. Either way, bulimia should never be ignored. The person’s physical and emotional health is at stake. It’s painful to know your child or someone you love may be binging and purging. You can’t force a person with an eating disorder to change, and you can’t do the work of recovery for your loved one. But you can help by offering your compassion, encouragement, and support throughout the treatment process.
Until next time.