Announcement: Friends, Partners, Family Members

“I Suspect a Friend, Partner or Family Member Has Bulimia, but I’m not sure. What are the signs, symptoms or behaviors that I should look out for?”

Identifying bulimic people is not an easy task. Those who suffer from an eating disorder keep it a secret and are very good at hiding the effects of bulimia, even from the people they live with.

Look out for telltale bulimia signs. For example, do they avoid social occasions that involve the presence of food; have you found hidden food wrappers or come across a number of unaccounted food bills?

Locked bathroom doors and turning on the shower to mask the noise of vomiting (binge & purge), are an obvious give away. So is coming across unknown tablets, which may be laxatives.

Finding loved-one’s missing from their bed, only to find them coming back from the kitchen, with a weak explanation that they needed a drink of water. This may sound plausible at first – but if it happens on regularly basis then it is not surprising if you get suspicious.

If it’s your child, are they skipping sports at school, playing truancy or are they are being bullied? These may be bulimia tip-offs.

Here is a list of bulimia signs, typical bulimic symptoms and behaviors to look out for. No one item will mean they are bulimic, so look for clusters of supporting evidence, like:

  • Often avoiding meals or eating with others. If they do eat, it is a calorie-controlled diet of some kind.
  • Eating late at night or indulging in mid-night feasts.
  • Habitually visiting the bathroom shortly after a meal and saying they need to have a bath, use the toilet or wash their hair. If this happens check the sink or toilet for any evidence of vomit, smell of vomit or heavy use of air fresheners in an attempt to mask the smell.
  • Having notable and regular fluctuations in weight, often due to being on various diets.
  • You noticing significant amounts of food going missing, empty packets and food wrappers may accompany this.
  • You finding hidden food items or food stored in unexpected places.
  • Being generally unhappy about their appearance and weight. Having an obsessive desire to be thin which is communicated through either their conversations or behavior.
  • Having an obsession with food and cooking – for example knowing how many calories are contained in individual food items; or they know every way to cook a specific food; are genuinely curious about eating, they read all about it; they entertain everyone through food, but seen to be eating very little of it themselves.
  • Having low levels of self-confidence, are moody and have a preference for being alone. Avoid socializing with family, friends and work colleagues.
  • Increased activity levels, especially fitness and visiting the gym on a very regular basis.
  • Weighing themselves more than once a day.
  • Poor management of personal finances.
  • General disinterest in life, frequent mood swings and are often depressed.

If you have identified clusters of some of the above bulimia signs or typical bulimic symptoms, chances are your instincts that a loved one is suffering from secretive bulimic tendencies, is true.

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If you have a friend with bulimia then help them out, but help them out the correct way. Learn about bulimia before confronting them.