Bulimia Nervosa - If you have it, don't ignore it!

Bulimia Nervosa - If you have it, don't ignore it!

Society has long set an unrealistic idea for body weight especially in women, and devalues those who do not conform in it. Bulimia Nervosa, most commonly called Bulimia, is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by a cycle of bingeing and compensatory behaviours such as self-induced vomiting, designed to undo or compensate for the effects of binge eating caused by society’s unrealistic idea of the ideal body image. The warning signs of Bulimia Nervosa are as follow:  

  • Evidence of binge eating, including disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods of time or the existence of wrappers and containers indicating the consumption of large amounts of food. 
  • Evidence of purging behaviours, including frequent trips to the bathroom after meals, signs and/or smells of vomiting, presence of wrappers or packages of Laxatives or diuretics. 
  • Excessive, rigid exercise regimen--despite weather, fatigue, illness, or injury, the need to “burn off” calories taken in.
  • Unusual swelling of the cheeks or jaw area.
  • Calluses on the back of the hands and knuckles from self-induced vomiting.
  • Discoloration or staining of the teeth.
  • Creation of lifestyle schedules or rituals to make time for binge-and-purge sessions.
  • Withdrawal from usual friends and activities.
  • In general, behaviours and attitudes indicating that weight loss, dieting, and control of food are becoming primary concerns.

Bulimia nervosa can be extremely harmful to the body. Vomiting and laxative abuse can lead to swollen glands, vitamin and mineral imbalances and wearing down of tooth enamel. There can also be long-lasting problems with digestion and the heart.

Ms. Danah Quintana, Clinical Dietitian at Royal Bahrain Hospital says: “As a Clinical Dietitian, the nutritional treatment goal of Bulimia Nervosa is weight maintenance, rather than cyclic weight gains and losses. Major steps toward recovery include discontinuing purging and restrictive dieting habits and learning to eat three meals a day plus snack to satisfy hunger.” There are few ways to correct the eating problems of Bulimia Nervosa.

First, is to eat a well – balanced diet and regularly timed meals consisting of variety of foods. Avoid finger foods and refrain from “dieting” and “skipping meals”. Include raw vegetables, salad, or raw fruits at meals to prolong eating time. Thirdly, choose whole-grain, high-fibre breads and pasta, rice and cereals to increase bulk for immediate feeling of fullness. Finally, choose foods that provide protein and fat for satiety and consume adequate fluids particularly water. For convenience and to reduce temptation, select foods that are naturally divided into portions. For example 1 potato rather than rice and pasta that can be overloaded on the plate or purchase yogurt and cottage cheese in individual containers. And lastly include 30 minutes of physical activity every day; exercise is an important tool in defeating Bulimia Nervosa.

Remember, treatment generally involves a team not just a dietitian that includes a support system such as family members and your healthcare provider. Maintain a healthy weight, eat right and exercise regularly because being Bulimic is not beautiful, we are perfect the way we are!

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