What is Bulimia?

Bulimia is a serious mental illness, not a lifestyle choice. People affected by Bulimia will eat lots of food in a short space of time (this is called ‘binging’). Following a binge, they will try to remove the food from their body through vomiting or exercising a lot (this is called ‘purging’). Someone with Bulimia will go through these stages of ‘binging’ and ‘purging’ on a regular basis, creating an unhealthy behaviour cycle. Click here to read more about Bulimia, and the different variations of this illness.

Often people with Bulimia will go to great lengths to hide their illness, which can prolong their sickness and further damage their long-term health.

Characteristics of Bulimia

  • Eating lots of food (known as binging) in a short space of time (e.g. two hours)
  • Followed by compensating behaviours (also known as purging) like vomiting, excessive exercise, fasting or drugs

During periods of binging, a person may feel out of control or unable to stop themselves from eating. This can lead to feelings of guilt and shame which motivates the next stage of compensating behaviours. If these behaviours are repeated over time, it can cause an individual to constantly obsess over food, weight loss and their body.

How is Bulimia different from Anorexia?

Bulimia and Anorexia are eating disorders which can have a serious impact on your health but the behaviour associated with each are really very different. Anorexia involves the total restriction of food intake. Many people with Anorexia won’t eat at all, which is why in some severe cases people may need to be fed via a drip.

Why do people suffer from Bulimia?

It’s complicated. But there are a range of factors which can influence the potential for someone to develop an eating disorder like Bulimia. Some known risk factors include:

  • Genetics
  • Psychological factors
  • Society (magazines, celebrity culture, school, friends, family)

Other risk factors are:

  • Self Esteem
  • Negative Body Image
  • Dieting
  • Extreme weight loss goals

Click here to read more about eating disorder risk factors 

Is it possible to recover from Bulimia?

Yes. No matter how long someone has been living with Bulimia it is possible to make a full recovery. But it will take time and commitment. Bulimia is a complex illness with strong emotional links. Someone with this illness may struggle to think clearly. With the right help from professional medical staff and a considered recovery plan, anyone can return to full health.

Getting Help

If you think that you or someone you know might have an eating disorder, it’s important to seek professional help. Recognising that there is a problem is an important first step. A GP or general practitioner can be an excellent starting point and they will be able to refer you to specialists in this area.

Click here for a list of Support Services.