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HealthInfo Canterbury

About bulimia

Bulimia (or bulimia nervosa) is when a person repeatedly restricts their eating, binges and purges.

Bingeing means eating a large amount of food, usually quickly, and feeling out of control while eating.

Purging is making yourself vomit or using laxatives to try to get rid of food so you don't gain weight.

Some people with bulimia also exercise excessively to stop themselves gaining weight.

These cycles of bingeing and purging often lead to feelings of failure and depression. People with bulimia believe they've lost control over their efforts to lose weight and often feel disgusted about their purging. They also tend to dislike their bodies and have low self-esteem.

People with bulimia often make themselves vomit to try to undo the effects of a binge, or even after eating a small amount of food. Vomiting after eating may become so automatic that they can't stop themselves, even if they want to hold down a meal, or stop vomiting altogether.

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Written by the Eating Awareness Team, St John of God Waipuna. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by the South Island Eating Disorders Service, Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed December 2017.

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Page reference: 73614

Review key: HIEDI-73561