Updated: Mar 4, 2020
With all the lean models and actresses in the media, everybody wants to have the perfect body. Some individuals go through drastic lengths to achieve this. The Guardian reports that hospital inpatient admissions for eating disorders have increased from 7,260 in 2010-11 to a staggering 16,023 in the last year- the highest increase over the past 8 years. Bulimia is the most common out of all eating disorders.
Bulimia (Bulimia Nervosa) is a mental condition where weight gain driven by negative body image leads to the use of dangerous methods such as excessive fasting, exercising, misusing laxatives, and enemas. The individual consumes above 2,000 calories a day (binge) and purges as punishment for overeating. Losing weight in this way is unhealthy because internal organs are forced to cope with those extreme changes in short periods of time.
Signs and symptoms of Bulimia:
Weight Prioritizing - Speak, dwell, and complain about their weight.
Concealed food stash & wrappers- involves shame from gaining weight and overeating. So, they often hide in safe places and binge. While doing so, there is a secret disposal of wrappers or hidden snack stashes.
Physical marks- cuts and scrapes may be visible due to forcing fingers down their throats to vomit or small red facial contusions from bursting blood vessels.
Excessive Time in The Bathroom or Gym- this usually indicates recurrent calorie cleansing. Too much working out is an additional sign of forced weight loss.
Consequences of Purging:
Laxatives and frequent vomiting may cause cardiac issues such as myocardial infarctions or heart palpitations because this organ is ill equipped to handle such a strain. Persistent vomiting may damage teeth or lead to infertility. Other conditions such as chronic gastric reflux (constant painful stomach), gastroparesis (paralysis of the stomach muscles), and inflammation to the esophagus are also common.
How to Step In:
If you are worried about your friend or family member and suspect that they might be suffering from bulimia, here are a few things you can do:
Don’t be afraid to approach them - If you are genuinely concerned, pick a good time when you two are alone to talk about it. Mention casually that you have noticed their behavior and are worried about it. Expect to be met with denial, but try to push on remaining calm.
Encourage assistance - Talking is a great stress reliever, but professional diagnosis needs to be a priority. You may suggest helping them with finding a doctor by scheduling an appointment. Offer your support by tagging along the first visit.
Discuss treatment - To receive the proper care, severity of this disorder needs to be determined. The best forms of treatment include, a combination of nutritional therapy, medical treatment, and psychotherapy. Medical treatment includes any serious health consequences while nutrition focuses on balanced dieting. Mental health counseling incorporates identification of emotional triggers and other co-morbid conditions that exacerbate disordered body image. Herein, positive emotions are encouraged rather than dealing with stress destructively.
Provide additional support - It is crucial to provide support at home. You can set a good example by serving nutritious meals devoid of criticism and negative commentary. One of the worst things to do is force them to adhere to your diet. This may cause to secret binging and more suffering. Therefore, it is best to remain encouraging and allow them to eat freely.
Please remember that recovery takes time. Make sure to be promising, set realistic goals, and have conversations without judgement. Avoid possible triggers by avoiding topics like weight issues, food, and comments about your own appearance. It is important to put your mental and physical needs first since this is long process. Feel free to take the day off to unwind so that you can offer support without compromise your own health.