Bulimia sufferers tend to try and conceal their eating and purging behaviors from friends and family members, however if you notice they frequently go to the bathroom after meals or have an unusual focus on body size or weight issues it could be an indicator that they have this disorder.
Myth 1: Bulimia Only Affects Teenage Girls and Women
Bulimia has become a familiar topic in popular culture, which means many have at least some understanding of what the disorder entails. Unfortunately, however, misconceptions still abound about bulimia; misinformation that could harm those suffering from the condition. Understanding myth from fact is the first step to encouraging more people to seek professional treatment when necessary – Dr. Dowell of Equip’s Eating Disorder Services team along with two eating disorder experts have come together to disprove several of the most frequently held misconceptions surrounding bulimia.
When most of us think of “bulimia,” our first association may be with teenage girls obsessed with weight and diets to reach a specific number on a scale. But in reality, bulimia is an eating disorder affecting people of all ages, genders, backgrounds, and race/ethnic groups; its hallmark being binge eating followed by compensatory behaviors like vomiting or taking laxatives in response. These episodes of binge eating may leave people feeling out of control and overwhelmed, leading them down an overwhelming path, often secretive but often associated with feelings of shame or embarrasssment when confronted.
People suffering from bulimia often alternate dieting and eating low-cal foods or “safe” foods with binge eating “forbidden” high-cal foods, then purge to get rid of extra calories by vomiting, using laxatives/diuretics/exterous exercise/rehydration techniques/other means – ultimately they feel powerless over themselves and overwhelmed.
An individual suffering from bulimia might vomit, as well as engage in other methods of purging to try to alleviate their condition. Some of these methods have serious health ramifications such as worn tooth enamel, stomach ulcers, kidney issues, dehydration, acid reflux disorder or even heart problems.
Believing this myth can be harmful, as it leads people to assume bulimia is something only teenage girls and women experience. Such stereotypes may discourage those suffering from the condition from seeking treatment as they believe it only affects females or younger girls.
Myth 2: Bulimia Is Only Associated With Purging
Though bulimia may be thought of as an eating disorder often associated with purging, those living with the eating disorder can exhibit other non-purging behaviors as well. They may compulsively overeat, then attempt to rid their body of calories by vomiting, using laxatives or diuretics (water pills), fasting excessively or engaging in excessive physical exercise – either individually or combined together.
Purging can be an extremely hazardous practice that can cause health complications including worn tooth enamel from stomach acid, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances and severe damage to throat and esophagus tissue. People suffering from Bulimia may also develop heart conditions or kidney ailments depending on which form of purging they choose to engage in.
Bulimia sufferers frequently struggle with body shame, making their symptoms hard to recognize and identify. Due to misconceptions and myths surrounding this eating disorder, it’s vital that we all gain more knowledge on its truth so we can support those struggling.
Bulimia myths often include the belief that once someone stops engaging in destructive behaviors, they’ll automatically recover. While everyone with bulimia would love to break free from its destructive cycle on their own, doing so without professional support from a qualified treatment team is extremely challenging.
Bulimia affects people of any age, although teenage girls and women tend to experience it most commonly due to pressure to maintain an idealized body image. Men can also be affected by similar pressures to look good and feel self-confident in public settings.
People suffering from bulimia often go on to develop anorexia at some point during their lives, a phenomenon known as bulimarexia. Studies show that more than half of those diagnosed with bulimia nervosa will also go on to develop anorexia as time progresses – so although bulimia may seem less serious than anorexia in terms of impactful treatment options available, both can still prove fatal if left untreated.
Myth 3: Bulimia Is Only Associated With Weight Loss
Eating disorders like bulimia are becoming more widely recognized among the general public due to media representations; however, many still hold onto misconceptions and myths surrounding this mental illness which prevent people from seeking diagnosis or treatment. In this blog post from Equip, our Director of Education Dowell and two of our expert clinicians dispel five myths associated with this eating disorder in order to help individuals recognize its severity and seek necessary treatments.
Bulimia involves both binge eating episodes and purging behaviors, such as vomiting, laxatives, diuretics or excessive exercise to rid their bodies of any leftover calories following binges. This may cause electrolyte imbalances, ulcers in both the esophagus or stomach lining, malnourishment, organ failure in both heart and brain as well as life-threatening health conditions that require immediate medical care and attention.
Bulimia involves binge eating, but it’s possible for individuals to engage in one binge without engaging in purging activities afterwards. This can be especially dangerous when combined with health conditions that make digesting food harder, such as those associated with age and elderly populations. People living with bulimia often engage in compensatory behaviors like excessive exercising that can lead to heart complications as well.
People living with bulimia come in all sizes. While those underweight are likely to report more symptoms and be diagnosed earlier than those who are overweight, all individuals living with this disorder risk serious health complications that could even endanger their lives.
People suffering from bulimia often feel ashamed about their behaviors, leading them to hide it from others and seek treatment less likely than female patients. Individuals living with this disorder are also adept at concealing it effectively, making detection harder.
Though these challenges exist, it’s essential that the truth about bulimia be brought out into the open to give those suffering the chance of finding appropriate support and treatment options. Eating disorders like bulimia can be lethal; however, recovery with proper support and treatment is possible.
Myth 4: Bulimia Is Only Associated With Eating Disorders
Due to how bulimia is often depicted in media, many are misinformed and may miss red flags of troubled loved ones due to misinformation. A person living with bulimia can develop serious health complications that could eventually prove life-threatening; so families need to remain alert for any indications that this person has developed eating disordered behaviors so they can provide support.
Step one in combatting bulimia lies in dispelling its myths. Many misconceptions regarding bulimia revolve around food and body image issues, oversimplifying its causes and effects in an effort to mislead others about what the disorder entails and prevent them from understanding its depth and seeking treatment or supporting loved ones who may need support.
Bulimia is a mental illness that impacts men and women of all ages, genders and body types. It typically involves binge eating followed by compensatory behaviors like vomiting or taking laxatives as an unhealthy response to distress, sadness, anger, loneliness and anxiety. Individuals suffering from this mental illness tend to remain highly secretive about their behavior due to shame or guilt about their body and can become skilled at hiding its symptoms despite repeated attempts at treatment.
People suffering from bulimia may also suffer from anxiety and depression; approximately 50% of bulimic patients have co-occurring diagnoses. Furthermore, it should be noted that this form of weight loss should not be seen as safe for long-term success; anyone concerned should speak with their physician or therapist regarding getting professional assistance for this problem.
Eating disorders are debilitating and potentially deadly conditions, yet they are not a personal choice. Individuals afflicted by eating disorders must seek support from family, friends and professional providers in order to seek the necessary treatment for bulimia or any other eating disorders; the right guidance can begin the journey to recovery so individuals can live free from them altogether. By dispelling myths about bulimia people can better understand and support loved ones who require medical help.