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How to Detect Bulimia Nervosa

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

Does your current intake consist of restriction followed by a binge episode and then compensatory behaviors due to guilt and shame? If so, this may be related to Bulimia Nervosa (BN).


What is a BN Eating Disorder?

The National Eating Disorders Collaboration states that bulimia nervosa frequently begins during or after a period of dieting and restriction. One with bulimia nervosa may experience a sense of lack of control followed by eating a large amount of food within a relatively short period of time.


Following the binge episode, one is usually left with feelings of guilt and shame during or afterward. These feelings may lead to engagement in compensatory behaviors with the intention to prevent weight gain. Compensatory behaviors will vary depending on the individual but may include: purging, excessive exercise, and misuse of diuretics and/or laxatives.


What are Physical Signs & Symptoms?

Due to the nature of Bulimia Nervosa, some physical signs and symptoms can be more apparent than others. These include, but are not limited to: dental issues (such as tooth decay, chipped teeth, stained or yellow teeth), swelling (in the mouth, jaw, or cheeks), mouth sores, changing voices, calluses around the hands and knuckles, dehydration, cardiac issues, menstruation disturbances, GI discomfort, changes in bone density, weight fluctuation, and fatigue.


It's important to note those with BN do not necessarily lose weight but may gain weight. Malnourishment can occur in all body sizes and should not be overlooked in those with Bulimia Nervosa.


What are Emotional Signs & Symptoms?

Those with eating disorders may experience high emotions and feelings of distress if they haven't developed coping and ground techniques that best support their needs. Emotional signs and symptoms will also vary depending on the individual, this may include but not be limited to: depression, anxiety, intense fear of weight fluctuation, low self-esteem, dissatisfaction with one's appearance, lack of self-regulation, social withdrawal, and denial of compensatory harmful behaviors. Those with eating disorders also commonly exhibit perfectionist tendencies.


What are Behavioral Signs & Symptoms?

Behavioral signs and symptoms related to BN can be challenging to identify, due to these individuals engaging in secrecy. Feelings of guilt and shame are commonly associated with eating disorders, leading to the individual hiding behaviors or being dishonest.


These behavioral signs and symptoms may include, but are not limited to: eating excessive amounts of food within a short period of time (binge eating), purging, abuse of laxatives and/or diuretics, excessive exercising (past the point of enjoyment), and extreme fluid intake.


Who Should Seek Treatment?

If you or a loved one are experiencing the signs and symptoms shared in this post, it is important to connect with a professional treatment team. Bulimia Nervosa is a serious and life-threatening eating disorder that requires proper medical and psychological care.


Your treatment team may consist of a physician, therapist, and dietitian who all specialize in the treatment of eating disorders and provide weight-inclusive care. Within Health shared that 75% of those with Bulimia Nervosa make a full recovery from their eating disorder when working with a treatment team.


Treatment With Pearl Wellness

Here at Pearl Wellness Practice, our in-house clinicians specialize in the treatment of eating disorders in adults in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia regions. Our Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist practice from a Health at Every Size and weight-inclusive approach to ensure the individual receives the treatment they deserve.


By identifying the root cause of an eating disorder, learning gentle nutrition and intuitive eating principles, integrating coping techniques, and making peace with food and body, our team has helped several individuals find a recovered lifestyle.


If you're interested in learning more, reach out today! Our team offers complimentary consultation calls to ensure they're an ideal fit, answer questions, or address concerns clients have. From all at Pearl Wellness Practice, we wish you or your loved one the best on the recovery journey.


With Pearls of Wisdom,


Eden & Kira

eating disorder treatment


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