Signs of Bulimia and Treatment Options

The basic fundamental treatment for bulimia usually combines nutritional counseling with antidepressants and psychotherapy. It’s important to find a doctor that has experience treating eating disorders. This is also an important point to consider when choosing a nutritional counselor. There are clinics that specialize specifically in treating eating disorders and provide services under one roof. No matter what the approach, it’s important that the doctors and therapists all work closely together to form a comprehensive treatment of the patient’s health and progress. 

Signs of Bulimia

There are many stereotypes when it comes to eating disorders and unfortunately, they can actually contribute to people not getting the help that they need. Keep an eye out for these signs and symptoms that you or a loved one may have this eating disorder.

Physical signs and symptoms of bulimia may include: 

  • Scars or calluses on knuckles or fingers. This is caused by repeatedly using fingers to trigger a vomiting session. 
  • Not overweight. Contrary to popular belief, many people with eating disorders are not actually underweight. 
  • Weight fluctuations. People with bulimia often have weight fluctuations of 10lbs or more due to bingeing and purging.
  • Puffy cheeks. Consistent vomiting contributes to puffed-up cheeks. 
  • Odd colored teeth. The acids from bile and vomit tend to discolor the teeth. 

Aside from the physical signs of bulimia, there are some additional signs of purging to be aware of. Purging is an attempt to “clean” your system of food or weight. 

  • Excessive use of diuretics or laxatives. While occasional use is understandable, consistent use of these products in order to lose weight could be a sign of bulimia. 
  • Exercising after eating. Not only is exercising right after eating not very healthy, but it can also be a sign of bulimia if it’s done to immediately rid the body of calories. 
  • Frequently using the bathroom right after meals. Running water may be used to hide the sound of vomiting. There may also be a lingering smell of vomit in the air.

Therapeutic Strategies

When it comes to bulimia treatment options, therapy is often a key component of recovery. Behavioral therapy focuses on changing habits to encourage a healthy relationship with food. This may be examining behaviors (such as bingeing and purging) in order to analyze them and come up with ways to change it.

Cognitive therapy, however, may be helpful when it comes to identifying and correcting negative thoughts that often lead to destructive actions. This can include individual or group therapy sessions where the focus lies on the emotional components and relationships that have helped the bulimia develop and progress. 

Working With a Dietician

When it comes to recovering from bulimia, a registered dietician can help prioritize your recovery by focusing on healthy eating and your relationship with food. The first thing that may be done is to replenish your body with any nutrients that it may have lost. Additionally, a meal plan may be made for you to follow that will ensure you are eating enough calories, minerals, and vitamins throughout your day. A sugar-free diet may help reduce instances of bingeing, while also accounting for the nutrients you need. 

It’s common for people who suffer from bulimia to develop dehydration or malnourishment issues. Working with a registered dietician can actually help you reverse so of the signs of malnourishment while advising you on how to develop a healthier way of eating. 

If you know someone that exhibits the warning signs of an eating disorder, it’s important to encourage them to seek treatment options right away. Unfortunately, eating disorders can quickly prove fatal before someone has the chance to get help if it’s left alone for too long. 

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