Call: 01782 855585
Help for anxiety and panic attacks

Symptoms Of Bulimia

Do You Have Symptoms Of Bulimia?

Symptoms of bulimia tend to be consistent and are perhaps the best way to self diagnose bulimia nervosa. The symptoms of bulimia not only trigger each other, they also feed back and maintain the bulimia cycle. On this page you'll learn the symptoms of bulimia, how the initial symptoms of bulimia lead to deeper bulimia symptoms, how the symptoms of bulimia create and maintain an obsessive compulsive cycle and perhaps most importantly how to recover from bulimia and its symptoms.


Symptoms Of Bulimia - It Starts With Self Perception...


There is always a starting point for any disorder whether it's an anxiety disorder, an obsessive compulsive disorder or an eating disorder. The starting point for bulimia is always an issue with self perception. It is common for the potential sufferer to believe that they are somehow not good enough, unworthy, unacceptable, unattractive... or a combination of these things. It is also common for the potential sufferer to feel they lack control in their life.

The truth behind self-perception is that it is thought driven... not reality driven. The potential sufferer generally experiences negative, scathing, critical self talk in their head. This makes them feel bad, but rather than associate the feeling bad simply to the (speculative) thought process - the potential sufferer attaches those feelings to who they are and how they look. This is the first step in the bulimia cycle.

The next step is to use a combination of thoughts (visual and internal self-talk) to imagine looking better and the potential benefits it would bring. Thus we now have emotional dissatisfaction with how the potential sufferer currently looks AND the prospect of looking better and feeling good about it.

The potential sufferer then rationalises "I need to be..." in order to feel good about myself. Here are some typical examples:

  • I need to be thinner in order to feel good about myself
  • I need to be thinner to be more attractive
  • I need to be thinner to be more accepted
  • I need to be thinner in order to get on professionally
  • I need to be thinner so that I can have more control

The typical rational response to the situation (and to gain the benefits) is to diet. Thus the potential sufferer now has REASON to diet and RESTRICT their food intake. This leads to the next symptom of bulimia.

Back to top


Symptoms Of Bulimia - Next Comes Restriction...


The obvious theory behind a diet (restriction) is that "If I don't eat - I'll lose weight". This would rationally lead to "I'll lose weight so I'll be thinner and then I'll feel good about myself because... (see above list)". Well yes and no. The theory seems to add up - but in practice it simply doesn't work that way...

Lot's of people diet, however it is very rarely a solution to long term weight loss. It is also interesting to note that there's no way of telling in advance if dieting will actually lead to bulimia... until it does. So why doesn't restriction (diets) work over the long term?

The brain is hard-wired to adapt to our environment. When food is plentiful and regular the brain works in a standard mode. However, if famine strikes and there is a food shortage the brain quickly shifts into overdrive.

The brain has a core program which tells it (according to your lifestyle and frame) how much you need to eat in order to survive and remain healthy.

Famine can come in two forms, the first one being a genuine scenario when there simply is no food available. However, artificial scenarios such as diets and restriction of food intake (even though the cupboards or supermarket may be full) will trigger the same response.

Under normal circumstances when the body is receiving adequate food at regular intervals (proper meals and possibly snacks) - there is no issue. There is no reason to pay particular attention to food other than when you feel hungry prior to your next meal. However, when food becomes intentionally restricted and the brain has entered its famine overdrive mode, it is programmed to focus on pursuing and obtaining food. The longer and more intense the restriction - the stronger the focus on food becomes...

Back to top


Symptoms Of Bulimia - Food Obsession...


A strong symptom of bulimia is food obsession. A common misconception is that bulimia is driven by an obsession with food, however this is not true. Food obsession is a symptom of starvation triggered by restriction (diets). When the brain is in famine overdrive it directs the sufferer to focus on food in an attempt to gain nourishment. Some people can diet mildly without their brain entering famine mode - however for bulimia an obvious symptom of the disorder is the brain being constantly in famine mode and the sufferer obsessing about food.

The brain is essentially a thinking machine - or thought generator. Thus the brain can choose what thoughts appear in the bulimia sufferers conscious attention. The thoughts of food are generated by the subconscious part of the brain, which is responsible for survival. The conscious analytical part of the brain (the bit you're aware of) can often be in conflict with what the subconscious (survival) part of the brain is doing. The conscious part of the brain can be focused on weight loss and the perceived consequences of potentially gaining weight - thus there is internal conflict between the two.

The inner conflict between 'will power' (to lose weight) and 'the subconscious part of the brain seeking 'survival' inevitably creates emotional instability. Feeling bad, confused and powerless are common side effects of the inner conflict.

Food restriction over a given period gives rise to a threshold point which once crossed results in the subconscious (survival) part of the brain over-riding the conscious (will power) part of the brain. This in turn results in uncontrollable compulsions to eat large quantities of food very quickly.

Back to top


Symptoms Of Bulimia - The Binge & Purge Cycle...


The uncontrollable compulsion to eat a large quantity of food very quickly is known as a binge. Many bulimia sufferers report that they are 'out of control' during the binge period. They simply can't stop eating through will power and will only stop when they run out of food or physically can't eat any more.

The binge has essentially been the subconscious (survival) part of the brain taking over and using compulsion to force the sufferer to eat a large quantity of food very quickly. The reason for this is that the survival part of the brain recognises the body is potentially starving and has taken decisive action by over-riding the sufferers will power.

An analogy of this process is like if you try to hold your breath. You can do this using your will power and it temporarily over-rides the automated breathing program used by your subconscious mind. However, as the brain begins to detect an oxygen shortage it sends a 'feel uncomfortable' signal by making your lungs hurt. The urge to breath becomes stronger and stronger until the threshold is crossed and no amount of will power will prevent your subconscious mind from taking in a large breath.

Basically the binge is a similar cycle but relating to food rather than oxygen.

Following the binge the sufferer has a full stomach of food and the prospect of starvation has been averted. The subconscious part of the mind has done its survival job and can now stand down. However, the conscious part of the mind, full of the fear of potential weight gain (and the emotional trauma it could bring) kicks into action. Thoughts of weight gain and cruel, scathing comments via internal dialogue elicit crushing feelings of fear, shame and guilt.

To avoid potential weight gain the sufferer then takes conscious steps to purge the food which has been consumed. The most common purge technique is vomiting, although laxatives and diuretics as well as extreme exercise can also be used. Purging the consumed food promises to neutralise the fear of weight gain... so the sufferer vomits (or whatever).

Some bulimia sufferers say that the purging process clears them of all the negative emotions they were dealing with following the binge. However, other bulimia sufferers say that although they feel a sense of relief that they hopefully wont gain weight from the binge... they also feel terrible shame and guilt for what they have done... yet again. This is when they say to themselves, "never again" or "that was the last time" - but of course that transpires not to be the case...

Back to top


Symptoms Of Bulimia - The Shame & Secrecy...


Almost all bulimia sufferers relate to the binge and purge process as being a shameful act. However, the shame and subsequent guilt doesn't end there.

The vast majority of bulimia sufferers feel forced to live a lie. Their existence (because that's what it is) is a combination of lies, deceit and secrecy. They will do whatever it takes and lie whenever they need in order to protect their dirty little secret.

Some sufferers admit stealing food, others admit to eating out of the bin and when they're in deep, even sifting through their own vomit and re-eating regurgitated food. When you couple this with vomiting in bags and other vessels, then hiding it around the house until disposal time - there's little wonder bulimia sufferers are utterly ashamed of themselves.

Now, the only reason a person begins the bulimia path is through poor self perception - so isn't it ironic that the cycle they've introduced to improve things has actually made them much worse? Have you ever been more ashamed or messed up in your life than you have with bulimia? If you continue with bulimia, does the cycle dictate you're going to get better or worse?

If you've said anything other than "it's going to get worse... MUCH WORSE" - then you're in denial and may as well go and eat a couple of litres of ice cream so you can feel better. However, if what we've said resonates with you and you've had enough of being trapped in this horrific cycle of misery - we can help.

Back to top


Symptoms Of Bulimia - How To Recover & Get Your Life Back...


Even if you could choose to be free of bulimia by simply flicking a switch - you'd still feel bad about yourself and worry about gaining weight, wouldn't you? Well the good news is that you're normal and that's what most bulimia sufferers think when considering recovery. They focus on 'how much worse it would be to be fat as well!'

If you look at the first symptom on this page - it's self perception. This is what started you on the bulimia road, this is what keeps you there, it is precisely what is playing on your fears and it is potentially standing in the way of your recovery. The truth is that what the scales say isn't your problem - it is what you THINK they SHOULD say that is the problem. You are associating who you are and how you feel with the way you look. Your problem is the difference between what you think you should be and what you perceive yourself to be. Both of these things are just thought processes - not reality!

At the moment you have two options in your life:

  • Option 1. Have Bulimia. Live a life of deceit, lies and secrecy. Feel intense shame and guilt about what you do. Follow a path of psychological and physical self-destruction which at the very least will rot your teeth, give you bad breath, ruin your skin, make you look older than you are, make your hair thin and dry, make your nails thin and brittle and these are just the cosmetic things - you really don't want to know about the medical damage you're inflicting. In spite of all this you use bulimia to make you 'look good' to be ''more acceptable' and to 'feel good about yourself'. It doesn't work though does it?
  • Option 2. Stop Bulimia. Get fat, be hated by everyone, hate yourself, be teased, fail at everything, be constantly rejected and humiliated, etc (we're sure you can add more).

If your only choices are these two, then you are indeed stuck between a rock and a hard place. As things stand, on your own (even with all the good intentions in the world) you have a choice of the above two. Your self perception and everything which stems from it bind you into one of these two options. However, with our help we can address your self perception (basically because it's just made up in your head) and change it so that it serves you instead of destroying you. We've been doing this for fifteen years and we're the best in the country. We can give you option 3.

  • Option 3. Recover with our help. When you look in the mirror you can feel good about yourself. The voice in your head is kind and considerate to you - just as you are with other people. You eat when you want to, without obsession or compulsion... in fact food drops right down your list of priorities to the point where you rarely think about it. The reason for this is that you have more important things to focus on like having fun, going out, getting on in your career, making time for your family and friends and helping others with their problems. When your body rehydrates and starts getting the nutrition it needs to be healthy, your hair will thicken and start to shine again, your skin will clear, the headaches and dizziness will disappear, your short term memory will improve, the sore throats and hoarse voice will go, your eyes will shine as they're meant to... and the list goes on.

If you want to keep bulimia for all the favours it does you - then that's fine with us. We never insist our clients refrain from their disorder(s), rather we give them other options to choose from. You originally took bulimia on as a vehicle to help you feel better about yourself, but instead it has turned around and bitten you, making your life a living nightmare. However, we can give you all the positive things you hoped bulimia would provide and more... without any nasty rituals, guilt, shame, self-destruction or physical harm.

You have a right to a happy, fulfilling life which we can help you attain. Commit to work with us and we'll show you results within weeks. Alternatively, if you're just window shopping, full of excuses or want to give bulimia another six months to bring you everything you want - sorry we can't help you.

If you're fed up with suffering and are prepared to help yourself, have a look at how we work:

I live in Staffordshire and I'm interested in Face to Face Consultations

I don't live in Staffordshire so Online Consultations are better for me

Back to top