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Overcoming Bulimia

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Bulimia is a serious eating disorder in which a person consumes an excessive amount of food within a short period of time (binging) and then attempts to undo the “damage” by removing the food through purging, fasting, or exercising. Individuals who suffer from bulimia characteristically feel out of control when binging, followed by episodes of shame and guilt.

Bulimia is considered to be a psychological illness, and there are grave implications for the health and wellbeing of anyone suffering from this challenging eating disorder.

It is important to acknowledge that a bulimic’s binging and purging behavior is symptomatic of more serious underlying issues. Therefore, in order to successfully treat bulimia, it is necessary to provide care for the whole person, not just the binging and purging behavior. This includes management of both the eating disorder, and any other concerns such as psychiatric or emotional disorders, poor life skills, self-esteem issues, and/or inadequate social skills.

Persons attempting to overcome bulimia may come under the care of a team of health professionals such as therapists, physicians, nutritionists, dieticians,or counselors in order to treat this complex disorder. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is often used to help the bulimic understand his or her eating disorder, and then learn and apply different thought patterns to avoid the self-destructive cycle of binging and purging.

Sometimes medications are prescribed to treat any underlying conditions such as depression or anxiety. Individuals who suffer from eating disorders may be diagnosed with additional psychiatric conditions which require treatment in order to provide the best opportunity for overcoming bulimia.

A good support system is another vital component in the fight against bulimia. Self-help groups, support groups, a kind friend, or a compassionate counselor are all helpful to the recovering bulimic. Caring and encouraging words from persons familiar with bulimia can help with problem solving, building new skills to cope with triggers, and processing difficult feelings.

Finally, it is important to recognize that overcoming bulimia is a long-term process, and that healing requires making lasting changes to one’s emotional responses and eating habits. Other factors which aid recovery include avoiding unrealistic expectations, reducing stress, and learning to love and appreciate oneself.

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