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4 Facts Everyone Should Know About This Serious Eating Disorder

Self Magazine’s correspondent writer Ziba Redif battled bulimia nervosa successfully, revealing that she started the process of recovery during her late 20s.

The eating disorder, commonly referred to as just bulimia, is a serious mental health condition that compels the affected individual to overeat then engage is some sort of compensatory behavior to avoid gaining weight such as induced vomiting, or excessive physical activity.

Unfortunately, bulimia is seldom understood, and Redif shares some of the facts she wishes people knew about the eating disorder.

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More than One Form of Purging

When it comes to myths surrounding bulimia, the belief that people suffering from the disorder always induce vomiting is deep-rooted. However, Redif, quoting NEDA (the National Eating Disorders Association), says that vomiting isn’t inextricably linked to bulimia.

In fact, this fallacy is the reason why most people fail to notice that their loved ones could be battling bulimia. How could they if they’re not taking secret trips to the bathroom after every meal?

This school of thought is wrong for the most part because there are other forms of compensatory behavior. These include the misuse of laxatives, enemas, and diuretics. Intense exercise, as already mentioned, is also another way of preventing weight gain.

And since we tend to think exercise is normal and healthy, we may not notice that a loved one is overdoing it to compensate for something else.

Bulimia Isn’t Restricted to Young Girls Only

Historically, bulimia and other similar eating disorders have been seen to plague young women only, and especially Caucasian females.

This stereotype brought feelings of shame to Redif as she went into her late 20s as she felt that grown-ups shouldn’t be plagued by such issues.

However, as she later came to understand, bulimia can affect anyone and at any age, as numerous studies in both the US and the UK have revealed. NEDA reports that it is indeed true that more women suffer from the condition than men, but it shouldn’t be viewed as a female issue alone.

The association reports that of the total male population in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the rest of Europe, 0.1% of them are battling bulimia.

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Dr. Rene Zweig says that the eating disorder, being a mental health issue, can affect anyone irrespective of their age, gender, ethnicity, weight, or socioeconomic group.

It Isn’t About Vanity

There’s also this school of thought that has people thinking that this eating disorder stems from the need to emulate petite celebrities. However, Redif categorically states that this is almost never the case.

If it were, wouldn’t someone snap out of bulimia if they just stopped worrying about being as thin as a certain celebrity?

As Dr. Zweig states, bulimia is a psychiatric condition. As we all know, these conditions are complex, and cannot just be wished away. Like all other mental health issues, bulimia nervosa is brought on by a synergy of genetical, environmental, and psychological factors.

Bulimia Can Be Life-Threatening

Dr. Zweig says that there’s this misconception that the only harmful eating disorder is anorexia. However, bulimia can just be as dangerous.

It can lead to anemia, dental erosion, sore throats, and in some cases, infertility. This is because the disorder brings about hormonal irregularities, which in turn affect the female reproductive system.

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As to how it can be life-threatening, bulimia throws your electrolytes off-balance, a situation that can lead to cardiac arrest. Overeating can also rupture the stomach lining, leading to acid leaking into other parts of the body.

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