What is bulimia nervosa?
Bulimia usually affects a slightly older age group, often women in their early to mid-twenties who also have been overweight as children. It will affect 3 out of every 100 women at some time in their lives. Like anorexics, people with bulimia suffer from an exaggerated fear of becoming fat, however, unlike people with anorexia bulimics usually manage to keep their weight within normal limits.
They can do this because, although they try to lose weight by making themselves sick or taking laxatives, they also “binge eat”. This involves eating, in a very short time, large quantities of fattening foods that they would not normally allow themselves. For example, people with bulimia might get through numerous packets of biscuits, several boxes of chocolates and a number of cakes in two hours or less. Afterwards they will make themselves sick, and feel very guilty and depressed.
This bingeing and vomiting may raise or lower their weight by up to 10 Ib within a very short period of time. It is extremely uncomfortable, but for many it becomes a vicious circle that they cannot break out of. Their chaotic pattern of eating comes to dominate their lives.
There are two types of bulimia:
A purging type (person regularly engages in purging behaviour, e. g. self-induced vomiting or misuse of laxatives, diuretics or enemas)
A non-purging type (person uses other inappropriate compensatory behaviours, such as fasting or excessive exercise, rather than self-induced vomiting or misuse of laxatives, diuretics or enemas)