Bulimia is not what you think

It’s not uncommon for people to really misunderstand eating and body dysmorphic disorders. In all honesty, it confusion kinda makes sense. Food is necessary for survival. Why would anyone purge themselves of a perfectly good meal when there are starving people in the world, right? A slim figure is considered ideal and something to sacrifice for in order to achieve it, right? Avoiding food makes sense and it’s what were supposed to do… right? Do you see the contradiction here? This is mixed-messaging at it’s finest. How we balance these social cues and norms can take quite a toll on our psyche. But not only that, there is so much more to an eating disorder than meeting a perceived standard of beauty. There is the sense of control that many with bulimia feel when they regulate their food. It may sound odd but think about it this way, people seek out drugs in order to gain a sense of control over their mental state so they can dictate how they feel in a given moment. Well, with bulimia and other eating disorders they can experience the same thing, except they use food and not meth or heroine.

What is bulimia

Bulimia can be described the following way according to the National Library of Medicine

Bulimia is an eating disorder in which a person has regular episodes of eating a very large amount of food (bingeing) during which the person feels a loss of control over eating. The person then uses different ways, such as vomiting or laxatives (purging), to prevent weight gain.

Many people with bulimia also have anorexia.


Many more women than men have bulimia. The disorder is most common in teenage girls and young women. The person usually knows that her eating pattern is abnormal. She may feel fear or guilt with the binge-purge episodes.

The exact cause of bulimia is unknown. Genetic, psychological, family, society, or cultural factors may play a role. Bulimia is likely due to more than one factor.


With bulimia, eating binges may occur as often as several times a day for many months. The person often eats large amounts of high-calorie foods, usually in secret. During these episodes, the person feels a lack of control over the eating.

Binges lead to self-disgust, which causes purging to prevent weight gain. Purging may include:

  • Forcing oneself to vomit
  • Excessive exercise
  • Using laxatives, enemas, or diuretics (water pills)

Purging often brings a sense of relief.

People with bulimia are often at a normal weight, but they may see themselves as being overweight. Because the person’s weight is often normal, other people may not notice this eating disorder.

Symptoms that other people can see include:

  • Spending a lot of time exercising
  • Suddenly eating large amounts of food or buying large amounts of food that disappear right away
  • Regularly going to the bathroom right after meals
  • Throwing away packages of laxatives, diet pills, emetics (drugs that cause vomiting), or diuretics

Click here for more information about bulimia and read the full Mayo Clinic article.


Bulimia or Anorexia. What’s the difference?

Mental health jargon: what is ODD oppositional defiant disorder

You have depression. So what. We all get depressed sometimes (the myth about depression.

What is bipolar disorder?

Adolescent bipolar disorder. When is it diagnosed?

Autism jargon: what is SIB or SIBs?

SETH TALK – Ramone the Education Specialist

Inclusion Today, Community Living for Life

Mental health jargon: what is anxiety?

5 Truths About Maintaining a Loving Relationship When You Have Bipolar Disorder

Where is Seth’s Mom? Walk with Choosy health and fitness event

My Story, My Connection Mental Health Treatment and Recovery


Join the conversation. Click here to register your profile. Comment on articles, chat with others and more!

Share your story with the community. Click here to contact us about doing a SETH TALK.

Interested in becoming a guest writer for Seth’s Mom. Click here to contact us.

Plan your day with Seth’s Mom. Click here to visit our Events page.

External Resources

Eating Disorder Hope website


Support program: Sibling Support Project

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

National Center for PTSD

The Blue Ribbon Project: supporting victims of child abuse and youth in foster care

Faces of PTSD