Difference Between Bulimia Nervosa and Anorexia Nervosa 

Wednesday, Oct 26  •  


eating disorder treatment

Eating disorders are behavioral or mental health conditions characterized by persistent disturbances in eating patterns. While there are many eating disorders, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are the two most common types. People with these two disorders have unhealthy eating habits and severe body image issues. The average onset of these eating disorders is 18 years

This article will explore the difference between anorexia and bulimia and elaborate on the symptoms of the two eating disorders.

The Difference Between Anorexia and Bulimia

Anorexia nervosa causes you to obsess over your body weight and control your calorie intake and food consumption. It’s characterized by a distorted body image and an extreme fear of gaining weight or being overweight. People with anorexia might maintain a below-average weight by excessively exercising or starving themselves.

On the flip side, bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder identified by compulsive binge eating, followed by drastic purging methods. People with bulimia eat significantly large quantities of food in one go and then purge it via self-induced vomiting, over-exercising, laxatives, or even enemas. They tend to lose weight or maintain an unhealthy, low weight. 

The primary difference between the two is:

  • People with anorexia restrict their food intake for weight loss
  • People with bulimia binge eat and purge the food to lose weight

Difference between Bulimia and Anorexia Symptoms 

Anorexia Symptoms Bulimia Symptoms
Not eating or eating very littleRepeatedly talking about food or weight gainRefusing to eat with peopleIsolating from loved ones Taking medicines to reduce hungerWearing layered or baggy clothes to hide the bodyFatigueThin, dry hairDepression & suicidal thoughtsConstipation Being dishonest about food consumptionBinge eatingSwollen jaw and cheeksSwollen throat or neck due to vomitingAcid refluxSevere dehydrationObsession with body weightMood swingsGoing to the bathroom after eatingPoor dental healthLoss of interest in activities previously enjoyedA puffy faceAbdominal bloating

How Are These Eating Disorders Diagnosed?

Bulimia and anorexia are diagnosed through a comprehensive physical examination, medical history intake, and a detailed psychological assessment form. A healthcare professional will guide the person suffering from either of these disorders to elaborate on their symptoms. 

The affected individual might find it challenging to open up about their relationship with food, but they must be honest to seek appropriate treatment. The diagnosis will also include blood, EKG, and urine tests to assess the person’s health. Early intervention is vital in helping people overcome these and other eating disorders.

Eating Disorder Treatment for Bulimia & Anorexia

People suffering from anorexia or bulimia should seek appropriate professional medical help. A healthcare professional can address the health-related consequences of your disorder while offering comprehensive eating disorder treatment. They will help you tackle underlying psychological issues, restore your body weight, seek nutrition counseling, partake in family-based treatment programs, and more.At Avalon Hills, we offer an empathetic, kind, and professional approach to eating disorder treatment. Our focus is to help you find your way to recovery and find ways to sustain it for a healthy, happy life.. If you have an eating disorder, contact us for the appropriate treatment today!