Possible Bulimia Causes; Are You at Risk?

In the last post I discussed binge eating; in this post we’ll look at bulimia causes.  Bulimia is another form of eating disorder that is far too common in today’s society.  It’s normally the “purge” part of a “binge and purge” eating session.

Bulimia is officially called bulimia nervosa and purging through vomiting is only one method of ridding the body of the binge food.  Other ways include laxatives, enemas and excessive exercise.

But why do people succumb to the siren call of bulimia?  It can’t be because the purging is pleasant (it isn’t).  So why do people go it?  Let’s take a look at five possible causes of bulimia nervosa.

Cause Number 1:  “Thin Is In”

Like it or not, we live in a world where the emphasis is placed on being thin and beautiful.  This, despite the majority of people in the United States are overweight!  This leaves a lot of people dissatisfied with their body. It’s especially true for women, in their teens and twenties, who are constantly bombarded with unrealistic images. 

But the popular culture also says, “supersize me” when it comes to dining out!  Restaurants, especially fast food restaurants, serve far more food than is needed for a healthy weight, and we’re conditioned to clean our plates.  You see the paradox. 

Number 2:  Self-Esteem 

People having a low self-esteem are highly susceptible to bulimia.  The feeling is that no matter what, they aren’t thin enough or pretty enough or good enough.  Then there’s the added feeling of guilt after a binge session, driving the self-esteem even lower.

Perfectionists can also fall into this category, especially if the purge of choice is exercise.

Cause Number 3 – Dieters Beware (Especially Yo-Yo)

There’s a lot of us who fall into this risk category.  And if you are a perpetual yo-yo dieter, you’re even more suseptible.  Why?

When you are constantly going on and off diets, lowing weight then gaining it back, you short-circuit your metabolism.  After awhile, dieting alone doesn’t seem to work very well.  It’s at that point that the idea of purging may occur. 

You’ve probably purged in one form or another in your life, but most of us don’t make a habit of it.  It’s when the need to purge becomes a habit that bulimia looms.

Number 4:  Changes in Life

Now I’m not necessarily talking about the “change of life”, but rather large changes in your life.  Examples include a new job (especially if it’s stressful), getting married, getting divorced, buying a house, becoming a parent.  You get the idea. 

The stress of a major life change leaves many people without a coping mechanism, if they don’t have supportive family and friends.  Bilimia becomes part of a coping mechnaism, because it’s something they think they have control over.

But when it comes to bulimia, the control eventually passes from the person to the purge.  And this leaves you worse off than when you started.

Bulimia Causes and Effects

So you’ve seen some possible causes of bulimia.  Now what are some possible effects?  Well, death is the most extreme example, but it is a possibility.

For those whom vomiting it the purge method, problems include all sorts of digestive and throat problems.  Not to mention problems with the teeth, from the acid in the stomach contents.  There’s evidence that excessive vomiting of the kind found in bulimia is also linked to esophageal and stomach cancer.

For the purge with laxatives, obviously your intestinal muscles stop working the way they should.  Malnutrition is also a problem, since many nutrients are absorbed in the intestines.  Watery stools can also be a cause of dehydration.

For those choosing diuretics, the low potassium levels prevalent with getting rid of all that water can cause heart failure, as you’re not likely binging on bananas.

Exercise as amethod of purging carries its own problems.  While exercise is good, too much strenuous exercise can lead to muscle failure, when they don’t have a chance to relax and recouperate.  There is also the problem of dehydration and heat stroke.

If you suffer from bulimia, the first thing is to admit it; first to yourself and then possibly to others.  Get help, because you may not be able to do it alone.  A therapist, a group or a trusted friend are all invaluable.  There are also online groups where you can encourage and receive encouragement.  You can check out the message boards on SparkPeople, for one.  You can also check the Yahoo groups.

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