Warning Signs Of Bulimia

Published on March 20th, 2024

Warning Signs Of Bulimia

Bulimia is an eating disorder that triggers a fear of gaining weight. It is a serious condition that typically requires professional treatment. Without treatment, a person with bulimia is at risk of suffering from significant medical and mental health issues.

Suspecting that you or a loved one is suffering from bulimia is a challenging experience, but there are ways that you can get help. Educating yourself on the warning signs of bulimia is the first step to getting yourself and your loved one the support that they need.

Warning Signs Of Bulimia

Maybe you are questioning if someone you know is struggling with this bulimia. It can be a difficult eating disorder to spot, as those suffering are often increasingly private and secretive. If you know the warning signs and what to look out for, you have a better chance of spotting someone struggling with bulimia. The following are common warning signs of bulimia:

Binge Eating. Binge eating (bingeing) is one of the most obvious signs that someone is struggling with bulimia. Bingeing typically occurs during a short period, resulting in discomfort due to feeling uncomfortably full. This intense urge to eat often begins as a way to deal with uncomfortable emotions, but can rapidly become an obsessive pattern.

Note: The obsessiveness that often ensues with bulimia can make it easier to spot the warning signs that may indicate the presence of bingeing.

Missing Food. If you have noticed significant amounts of food missing from your refrigerator or pantry, you may be noticing a telltale sign of bulimia. If you are missing food from your kitchen, there is a good chance you will find empty wrappers, containers, or bags hidden elsewhere in the home.

Secrecy Around Food. Those suffering from bulimia often experience guilt and shame around their eating habits. Maintaining secrecy around food is a way that affected people maintain a facade of “normalcy.” They may hide food in their room, bathroom, car, or anywhere that might be out of sight from others. The affected person may leave their house (or their job) to eat. This way, they can binge on as much food as they desire without having to be confronted by someone they know.

No Weight Changes Regardless of Food Intake. If you suspect someone you know is struggling with bulimia, an obvious first sign is the quantity of food they eat. Yet more suspicious is if there are no weight changes regardless of the immense amounts of food being eaten.

People with bulimia may attempt to trick their loved ones into thinking they have not binged throughout the day. They may say things like “I am so hungry” or “I have not eaten at all today” to help prevent questions about the lack of weight fluctuations.

Warning Signs of Bingeing

  • Disappearance of food
  • Eating large quantities of food in one sitting
  • Finding hidden food, wrappers, etc.
  • Eating to the point of discomfort
  • Secrecy around food
  • Purging after eating or when stressed
  • Going to the bathroom immediately after eating
  • Use of laxatives or diuretics
  • Spending a long time in the bathroom
  • Secrecy (locked doors, running water) while in the bathroom
  • The smell of vomit in or around the home

Purging. The physical discomfort and emotions that arise following a binge can leave people with bulimia feeling anxious and overwhelmed. The desperation resulting from a binge frequently creates the urge to purge. While purging is traditionally viewed as throwing up, it can also take the form of over-exercising or misuse of laxatives or diuretics.

Getting Up Immediately After Meals. If you suspect someone you know may be suffering from bulimia, begin taking note of their behaviors after a meal. It may arouse some suspicion in you if they are immediately getting up and leaving the table, especially if they go directly to the bathroom.

Purging is most often carried out in a bathroom, but it is not the only place an affected person may purge. They may secretly throw up in other places. They may vomit into containers and hide them in their room or somewhere else throughout the home, or they may purge outside. If you are smelling vomit in a bathroom or elsewhere in your home, this may be an indicator of purging.

Use of Laxatives or Diuretics. Laxative and diuretic use, which can be difficult to notice, are other ways that people with bulimia carry out purging behavior. Using laxatives and/or diuretics is another attempt for affected people to flush their bodies of the food they have eaten. While this has been proven to be an ineffective way to control weight or get rid of unwanted food and calories, many people with bulimia continue to use these methods. Misuse of laxatives is dangerous and can cause serious side effects to a person’s health.

Life with bulimia is challenging, but with therapy and treatment, people can learn how to overcome the condition and live healthy lives. If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one, consult with a mental health professional for guidance on how to get help.

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