Bulimia nervosa is a serious and complex psychological eating disorder with episodes of binge eating followed by starving or purging not to consume excessive calories. By becoming a rather famous topic in popular culture, many people have gained a cursory understanding of this disorder.
There are just as many myths about bulimia as there are legitimate facts. This misinformation is dangerous to people with this condition. It can hamper their diagnosis, delay treatment, and cast doubt in their minds about the severity of their situation.
Today, we will discuss the five most common myths about bulimia.
1. Bulimia Nervosa Is About Food and Weight
Binge eating and purging are prominent symptoms of the disorder. Therefore, many people assume the underlying factors and motivations are related to food. Bulimia is about using food as a coping mechanism to deal with distress.
It’s not about how the food tastes or how much they enjoy it. It’s a negative coping mechanism. Oftentimes, people who binge eat use out-of-control eating to fight off difficult emotions.
Another misconception is that people with bulimia do it to lose weight, but that merely oversimplifies a more complex issue. If weight loss was the goal, people would stop once they reached an ideal weight. However, that doesn’t happen because there is no ideal weight.
Bulimia is a psychological condition exacerbated by social and biological factors. It stems from mercurial emotions, feelings of inadequacy, negative self-image, and anxiety.
2. Bulimia Only Affects Women of a Certain Age
People think only women, and that too young women and teenagers only, have bulimia. While the onset of bulimia might come at an early age, it can affect people at any stage of life.
It’s not limited to women, and 9% of the sufferers are male. As with any other disease, bulimia does not discriminate based on age, gender, history, or socioeconomic background.
3. Bulimia Is Easily Recognizable
Bulimia is a disease that has been depicted in popular media, sometimes in a glamorized way. Due to this exposure, people think they can spot the signs of bulimia easily. The common myth is that a patient with bulimia would be eating excessively and purging, making the disease easy to spot. Or, they would be exceptionally thin.
A wide variety of signs and symptoms accompany this disorder, and not all people exhibit the same symptoms. Also, people with bulimia become skillful at hiding what they do out of shame and guilt.
4. Bulimia Patients Only Purge Through Vomiting
Purging is the tell-tale sign of bulimia, and the most common myth is that it’s only done through vomiting. Purging involves a person removing the food they consumed, and they can achieve this in several ways besides vomiting.
By starving afterward or compulsively exercising, people burn excess calories. They can also take laxatives or diuretic medicine to avoid eating for long periods.
5. It’s Not Serious Enough to Warrant Professional Help
The biggest myth is that it’s not as bad as anorexia nervosa. This myth is prevalent because people think at least bulimia patients are eating. However, the purging can cause ulcers, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and damage to the stomach and teeth.
Myths surrounding bulimia nervosa deter people from recognizing it for what it is and from seeking help. This disorder shouldn’t be taken lightly and requires professional intervention.
If you or a loved one requires treatment or is suffering, our team at Avalon Hills can help. As one of the country’s top eating disorder residential rehabilitation centers for eating disorders, you can trust our team to help you find your way to recovery.