Learn to distinguish bulimia from what is not

Learn to distinguish bulimia from what is not

People often identify bulimia with a problem of bingeing and, consequently, many times the focus of interest displaces exclusively a fight against them. NeverthelessNeither binge eating is always a symptom of bulimia, nor should the center of attention always be the elimination of binge eating.. There are other types of eating and nutrition disorders that occur with binge eating. And the solution is not usually found in a fierce fight against binge eating. Below we explain why.


  • 1 First, let's identify what a binge is
  • 2 Second, observe what happens after the binge
  • 3 What do we mean by compensatory measures?
  • 4 When can we diagnose bulimia?
  • 5 What if I have binge eating but no compensatory measures?
  • 6 A special variant: nocturnal overextended

First, let's identify what a binge is

If you think of a binge, you probably imagine the act of eating an exorbitant amount of food in a short space of time. However, for us to consider it a proper binge, this meal has to be ingested with a feeling of uncontrolledness, compulsively and with problems to cut the binge. Therefore, simply eating too much, without feeling uncontrolled, would not be a binge.

Second, observe what happens after the binge

If binge eating is really happening, to observe what kind of problem we are facing, we have to pay attention to what happens after the binge. There may be two situations: that after the binge take place certain compensatory measures to mitigate the impact of the binge about weight or not carried out.

What do we mean by compensatory measures?

If after the binge, anxiety to gain weight or feelings of guilt make us feel the need to vomit part of the intake, or take us to take laxatives, enemas or diuretics to feel somewhat lighter, or even lead us to skip meals, fast or abruptly exercise, we are facing a compensatory behavior.

When can we diagnose bulimia?

If we are having bingeing and compensatory behavior at least once a week during the last three months and what we think of ourselves depends a lot on our weight and our body image, we can say that we have bulimia. That is to say, in bulimia both bingeing and compensatory behaviors must occur. The level of severity of bulimia will, of course, depend on the frequency and intensity of both binge eating and compensatory measures. A vicious circle is created from which it is difficult to get out without help, since after the binge you feel like compensating to eliminate or reduce what you ate ... compensation involves an aggression against which the body defends itself with another binge. For this reason, the efforts of a person with bulimia often focus solely on eliminating the binge, which costs a lot if we have not reduced the compensatory measures first.

When bulimia progresses, health problems begin to appear. They are frequent erosions in the esophagus and gingivitis problems due to vomiting, as well as abdominal distension caused by binge eating. Can occur electrolyte imbalances when laxatives, enemas and diuretics are abused.

What if I have binge eating but no compensatory measures?

Sometimes, we have binge eating with all its components: over-sex with a feeling of loss of control, difficulties to stop eating even if we want to, but, despite feeling bad about ourselves, ashamed or guilty, we do not carry out any compensatory behavior afterwards. Feeling unpleasantly bloated or having eaten without hunger, what prevails later is the depression and a great feeling of discomfort without resorting to vomiting, laxatives, etc ... That's when the diagnosis changes and we can say that we have a Binge Eating Disorder (or Binge Eating Disorder) and no bulimia, provided that this dynamic occurs at least once a week during the last three months.

In this case there is also a vicious circle: bingeing is usually preceded by some emotion that is uncomfortable and unpleasant (boredom, loneliness, dejection, despair, anger, dislike of ourselves ...). Not finding a way to handle these emotions, some people turn to food to forget them for a while, to gratify themselves. At the very first moment, the strategy works, but it is like a mirage: soon after, or after the binge, feelings of dejection, shame, guilt ... attack again with force and predispose a new binge to flee momentarily from them. In binge eating disorder, work with emotions is very important.

A special variant: nocturnal overextended

Has not yet received enough research a disorder in which, after dinner, or early in the morning, occur binge eating that severely alters both sleep / wake rhythm as the eating pattern, generating great interference in the vital functioning of the person suffering from it. In those moments it is considered Night Ingestion Syndrome, but it is still unclear whether it is a binge eating disorder that occurs at night or in the next revisions of international classifications will be consolidated as a disorder with its own entity.