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How to Recognize Signs & Symptoms of Bulimia

Bulimia is a serious, sometimes fatal eating disorder in which uncontrolled eating is followed by purging. Learn the signs and symptoms if you are concerned about someone close to you.


  • Step 1: Spend time with the suspected sufferer Spend time with the sufferer. Listen to what they – they may refuse to participate in normal daily activities, seem depressed, or complain about their weight.
  • Step 2: Monitor food Check the refrigerator at night, then again early morning to see if large amounts of food are missing. Binge eating is often done in secret, at night.
  • Step 3: Pay attention to time spent in restroom Notice if the person spends a lot of time in the restroom. Most purging – self-induced vomiting – is done in secret.
  • TIP: Laxatives, enemas, water, and diet pills are also methods used by bulimics.
  • Step 4: Look for physical signs Look for complaints of a sore throat, foul breath, decaying teeth, or sores on the backs of hands. These are signs of repetitive manual purging.
  • Step 5: Seek professional help Seek the advice of a doctor or mental health professional for information on how to approach the individual. Symptoms of bulimia may vary from person to person but a true diagnosis must come from a licensed professional.
  • FACT: In ancient Rome people used to vomit up food in the period of feasting.

You Will Need

  • Research materials
  • An understanding of bulimia nervosa
  • A keen eye

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