Individuals with Bulimia Nervosa experience binge eating episodes which are marked by eating an unusually large amount of food, usually within a couple of hours, and feeling out of control while doing so. The sense of being out of control is what distinguishes binge eating from regular overeating. For example, during a binge, an individual may feel compelled to eat, and find it extremely difficult, if not impossible to stop eating. Some people experience a sense of being out of control even when eating small amounts of food. These are called subjective binge episodes.
Binge eating is followed by attempts to “undo” the consequences of the binge by using unhealthy behaviors such as self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, enemas, diuretics, severe caloric restriction or excessive exercising.
Individuals with Bulimia Nervosa are obsessed and preoccupied with their shape and weight and often feel as if their self-worth is dependent on their weight or shape.
Formal diagnostic criteria for Bulimia Nervosa describe binge eating and engagement in inappropriate, unhealthy behaviors to counteract the binges at least twice weekly for three months. Regardless of frequency, however, these behaviors are concerning and can have adverse physical and psychological health consequences.
There are two subtypes of Bulimia Nervosa: The purging typeincludes those individuals who self-induce vomiting or use laxatives, diuretics, or enemas. The non-purging type refers to those who compensate through excessive exercising or dietary fasting.