Bulimia: A Dangerous Secret

By: Scott Meyers

Bulimia is a type of eating disorder that the sufferer often keeps a well-hidden secret.

It has been said that bulimia is in fact the most secretive of all eating disorders. The individual suffering from bulimia learns to keep the eating disorder sometimes hides their condition from public view for many years. The actress Jane Fonda, for instance, confesses to suffering from bulimia from age 12 to 35, when she was finally able to recover. The cycle of binging and purging that define bulimia can be hard to eradicate once it has become established.

Bulimia often begins innocently enough. Most of the time, the eating disorder begins when the individual begins to binge and purge as part of a diet to lose weight. Soon, the binge and purge cycle becomes firmly entrenched, and the bulimic patient may feel incapable of stopping.

Most people understand that bulimia is characterized by an unhealthy binge and purge cycle. But many people don't realize that individuals afflicted with bulimia tend to consume many more calories very quickly, much faster than most people eat. For instance, the normal caloric intake for a woman may be somewhere in the range of 2,000 to 3,000 calories in the course of one day. A person suffering from bulimia may consume around 3,400 calories in two hours!

Obviously, this manner of consumption has many implications. First, eating such a large amount of food in a relatively short amount of time can greatly upset the body's digestive system, and purging only further disrupts the digestive organs. There are also a number of social and financial implications. The individual may isolate themselves from friends and family in order to binge and purge, and they may spend money each day in order to purchase food for their sessions of binging and purging.

The secretive nature of bulimia can make it particularly difficult to diagnose. Most people with bulimia develop the first symptoms of the disease during their early teens or 20s. Because bulimia can be relatively easy to hide, the individuals may not demonstrate overt signs of the disease until reaching their 30s or 40s.

Why is bulimia so difficult to diagnose? Unlike some cases of anorexia nervosa, bulimia may not be physically evident. This is because most people with bulimia are able to maintain a healthy weight. They may even project a healthy image. Many bulimics often seem to be healthy, successful "put together" individuals.

In fact, many researchers have pointed to the "perfectionism" associated with bulimia. Many bulimics express a need to be "perfect" when it comes to their weight and appearance. In addition to striving for perfection, some bulimics may also be privy to other types of compulsive behavior. Some doctors report that their bulimic patients are drawn to compulsive behaviors such as alcohol abuse, substance addiction, and shoplifting.

Clearly, bulimia can affect every part of a person's life. It is considered a serious health risk that should be treated as early as possible to prevent permanent health damage.

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Scott Meyers is a staff writer for Its Entirely Natural, a resource for helping you achieve a naturally healthy body, mind, and spirit. You may contact our writers through the web site. Follow this link for more information on Eating Disorders.

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