7 Facts You Might Not Know About Bulimia

facts about bulimia
Source: stopbreathethink.org.uk

Eating disorders are among the most deadly mental illnesses on the planet, yet for so many of us there’s an awful lot we still don’t know about them.

They can affect people of all age, size, ethnicity, gender and it’s believed around 9% of the world’s population does indeed suffer from one. Bulimia is one of the more common, and while you may have heard of it, there will be a lot you don’t know about it. You may not even realise you or a family member may have.

It’s becoming more and more prominent, with places like UKAT London, a private mental health clinic, seeing more patients coming through the door with bulimia and other eating disorders.

So, to help raise further awareness, here are seven facts about bulimia you may not be aware of…

Bulimia is Not Only About Binging and Purging


Firstly, while the hallmark features of bulimia will involve regular and recurrent episodes of binge eating, followed by the likes of purging, fasting or excessive exercise, there is also much more to it than that, which should really be understood.

It will largely revolve around a struggle with self-esteem and body image, fearing weight gain and often engaging in secretive behaviour that will see them hide food as well as a severe sense of shame that can come and go. It’s incredibly complex and needs treating that way.

It’s Not Always Visible

You may think that it’s easy to spot, but it’s really not. While you may see visible changes in body weight of people, there’s also a high chance you may not. People who seem to have a healthy and regular weight can also struggle with bulimia and other eating disorders. Andrew Flintoff, a professional cricketer and media personality is a good example of this, while people tend to go to great lengths to hide their disorder which makes it more challenging for friends and family members to spot.

This can be challenging for loved ones. However, there are also some more subtle signs that you can look out for, which we’ll cover a little further down this article.

Bulimia is Prevalent Across Ages and Genders

Bulimia isn’t prejudiced. It can affect absolutely anyone. People tend to believe eating disorders primarily affect teenage girls, but that’s not true, particularly at present where it’s also affecting more older adult males than ever before.

Underlying Mental Health Factors Play a Significant Role

bulimia affect mental health
Source: goodrx.com

Often what you’ll find is that bulimia will also conincide with other mental health conditions such as anxiety and depressions or obsessive compulsive disorder, with binge eating essentially acting as a coping mechanism.

Therefore, it’s important to not just address bulimia, but also the factors that may be causing it in order to really tackle the problem and ensure those suffering get the best possible help.

It’s Important To Understand The Varying Triggers

Those mental health issues often have trigger points that will then lead to the likes of heightened anxiety and binge eating. Trigger points will vary from person to person, but will almost always involve heightened stress levels.

This could be from work, relationship problems, or among young people especially, anxiety around social media can be hugely influential in developing eating disorders, with the pressures put on teens huge. By understanding trigger points, whether you’re suffering or a loved one is, you can then combat them by finding coping mechanisms. The likes of exercise such as running and swimming can be hugely valuable in that, while yoga and meditation are even recommended by professionals.

Bulimia Can Have Serious Health Consequences

Source: eatingdisorderhope.com

Finally, people don’t really understand the huge impact it can have on a person’s physical health. It can cause all manner of problems, from electrolyte imbalances to dehydration, dental problems as a result of the continual acid reflux and gastrointestinal issues too. It can cause serious long term health issues, underscoring the fact that more awareness needs to be raised around the eating disorder to prevent people from suffering much further down the line with their health.

Coping Mechanisms Can Be Key In Controlling It

Bulimia is a condition that is characterised by a loss of control, particularly during periods of binge eating. That’s contradicted by the desire for control that purging also brings.

However, when it comes to the prevention of binge eating, control is also important. That comes in the form of coping mechanisms to manage the stress and challenges of life that can often lead to destructive behaviours such as binge eating.

The Subtle Signs That Someone Is Struggling

While many of the signs that a loved one could be suffering from bulimia are difficult to spot, there are several subtle signs that are worth knowing to spot individuals suffering and get them the help they need.

Binging and purging are often hidden from us, but other activities such as excessive exercise, fasting or strict dieting can be giveaways. You may also notice they talk about dieting and exercise much more frequently, and while that may not be problematic, combined with other activities, such as secrecy in other areas or avoiding situations that avoid food could be a red flag.

Why We Should Know

It’s more important than ever before to understand bulimia and eating disorders, during a period of time where more people are suffering from them than ever before, alongside other forms of addiction.

Eating disorders can affect anyone at any time and if not treated can really cause problems throughout the rest of a person’s life. Help is always available, whether it be using local resources and techniques to manage it accordingly, or reaching out to the likes of rehab centres, where help can be gotten.

Help can set people up to manage eating disorders much more effectively, recognising trigger points and how to ensure they don’t then lead to binge eating. Instead, using coping mechanisms to stay on track and ensure either yourself, or a loved one enjoys a happy and healthy future.