Bulimia

What Is It?

The main symptom of the eating disorder, bulimia nervosa, is repetitive binge eating. During a binge, a person eats large quantities of food in a relatively short time, regardless of hunger. Binge eating is defined only in part by food quantity. A more important feature is the person's state of mind: During a binge, the person with bulimia feels out of control of the eating and cannot stop it.

By definition, bulimia is divided into a "purging" and "nonpurging" type, depending on what strategies the individual may use to try to control weight. Purging is vomiting self-induced immediately after a binge. In the nonpurging type of bulimia, a person may abuse laxatives, suppositories, enemas or diuretics, may go on an extended fast or start a period of strenuous exercise.

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