‘Eating Disorder’

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.

Binge Eating Disorders and You

Binge eating disorder — what is it, and why is it on the increase.  Will you get it, and what should you do if you have it?

First, let’s define binge eating.  Then you’ll understand why it’s on the rise in today’s culture.

What is a Binge Eating?

This is where you eat far more than normal at a sitting, often until it’s physically uncomfortable or even is painful.  One common example that probably most of us have indulged in is the infamous Thanksgiving dinner, where we eat too much of everything.  Afterwards, we loosen our belts, unhook the waistbands and sack out on the sofa.

This form of binging is most likely a controlled binge.  In other words, you could stop yourself at any point.  You might not want to, but you could.

In a true binge, the person bingeing is uncontrolled; in other words, they couldn’t stop if they wanted to.

When Does it Become a Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge eating becomes a problem when it becomes a regular occurrence.  That isn’t to say it has to be every day or even every week.  But when it arrives, it is uncontrolled, and uncontrollable.

Aside from consuming a large amount of food at one time, a binge eating disorder is characterized by the following signs and symptoms:

  • Eats much faster while bingeing than during normal eating episodes
  • Eats large amounts of food even when not really hungry
  • Eating until physically uncomfortable, even painful
  • Tends to eat alone even during periods of normal eating, because they are embarrassed about food and their bingeing
  • Feels guilty, disgusted, and/or depressed after a binge

Now a lot of people think that bingers are always overweight.  While this often the case, this isn’t always true.  A binge eating disorder can be coupled with purging (either vomiting or excessive use of laxatives) to rid the body of calories.

Who is at Risk?

Well, just about anyone, really.  It crosses racial lines and income levels.  It is a little more common in women than men, though.  Another potential risk factor is if you became overweight at an early age and have repeatedly lost and re-gained weight.

Health Hazards of a Binge Eating Disorder

There are definitely health issues associated with this problem.  And it’s on the increase.  Today’s culture has us eating more than ever, but we’re villified if we’re overweight – we’re told that we should be thin.  A contradiction, for sure.

The most common is weight gain, and all the problems that brings.  Diabetes, heart disease, stroke and the like are more prevalent the more overweight you become.

There are mental health issues involved as well.  Self-esteem is usually very low, and depression is common.

As with all disorders, the first step in resolving it is admitting that you have a problem.  The next is seeking help; this could be getting it from a medical professional, a group setting, or confiding in a trusted friend/relative/spouse who supports your efforts to control the binging.

You aren’t alone with your binge eating disorder, and you can be cured.  You just have to want to take that first step, which leads to the second.  You can do it.