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Bulimia is an eating disorder where you can get into a cycle of “bingeing” (over-eating) and “purging” (trying to control your weight by making yourself sick, using laxatives, or over-exercising).

Although many of us will eat a bit more than usual on occasion, this is different to bingeing. Bingeing is not enjoyable; in fact, it is often very distressing and you do not feel in control of it. During a binge, you may struggle to stop even if you want to, and you may feel disconnected from your body – some people may even struggle to remember what they’ve eaten afterwards. It is usually a way of dealing with difficult feelings and emotions, and is often followed by a desire to purge.

You may feel that parts of your life are out of control and that purging or restricting calories gives you a sense of control. But bulimia can seriously damage your body, so it's important to get help and find other ways of coping.

Bulimia is a serious condition but there's support available to you to help you get through it.

The symptoms of bulimia.


Just because you experience one or more of these symptoms, it doesn’t mean you’re definitely affected by bulimia. It’s important to talk to your GP to get a full diagnosis.

You may experience short- and long-term effects on your body, as well as emotional and behavioural symptoms:

  • thinking obsessively about your weight

  • binge eating

  • exercising too much

  • isolating yourself

  • feeling helpless and out of control

  • poor sleep

  • low mood

  • losing interest in things and people.

Physical symptoms may also include:

  • sore throat

  • dehydration

  • bad teeth (from vomiting)

  • heart problems

  • muscle spasms

  • swollen glands

  • some weight loss

  • change in periods

  • constipation

  • feeling weak and tired

  • stomach cramps

  • weight swings

What to do about bulimia

Take the first step – talk to someone you like and trust, like a teacher, relative, counsellor or friend.

You should also see your GP. They may offer to refer you to a psychologist or a psychiatrist who can help you.

It's really important to get help quickly because bulimia can cause long-term damage to your body.

Remember, bulimia can happen to anyone and is not your fault.

 Get help now 

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