Bulimia is not a conversation starter. Many victims don’t even know they have it. The information you can find on the subject is extremely limited and in many cases wrong. That is why I have decided to share the most common myths about bulimia. It is time to educate ourselves and learn more about it to decrease the negative impact of eating disorders.
1. People with Bulimia purge by throwing up
I used to think the same way. I knew I had a problem, I knew it was an eating disorder. However, I was sure that it was NOT bulimia because I was not vomiting. It turns out that I was mistaken. Throwing up is only one of the possible forms of purging. Laxative abuse, misuse of diuretics or insulin, fasting, or excessive exercising are other purging methods. The goal is to empty the stomach or compensate for excessive food intake. Any of the purging methods can be very dangerous and lead to medical emergencies and even death.
2. Bulimia can be spotted by appearance
The common thinking is that people suffering from an eating disorder look thinner and even skinny. The truth is that it is almost impossible to say if somebody has an ED only by appearance. People with ED are really good at hiding the signs and signals. Maybe it is easier to spot a person with anorexia, but loose clothing can conceal their body. However, people with bulimia are often with normal weight or a little overweight. The reason for that is because purging doesn’t get rid of all the ingested food. Half of what a person eats during a binge episode remains in the body after self-induced vomiting. Laxatives make a person lose weight through fluid and water loss, and the effects are temporary.
Anyway, very rarely people with bulimia might have obvious signs such as sudden weight loss or gain.
3. Bulimia only affects young women
The statistics have changed over the years, and it’s hard for researchers to get exact numbers because most people with an eating disorder don’t want anyone to know. But among all people with any type of eating disorder, about 10% to 15% are male.
Men are becoming as much concerned as women about how they look. It is a little easier for them to hide it, as excessive exercise can be seen as normal. Another one from the myths about bulimia is that males who have an eating disorder tend to be gay. Sexual orientation has nothing to do with eating disorders.
Another obscure fact is that anyone can develop an eating disorder at any age. You are never too old to develop bulimia. Sadly, it also can occur in kids as young as seven or eight years old. Often, the signs are not recognized until middle to late teens.
4. Bulimia is always caused by a life trauma
I was lucky enough to have a lovely family, supportive parents, and a great brother. I’ve been raised with love, good examples, and I was taught to always follow my dreams. There were no signs that I will develop an eating disorder. However, I slowly got into the trap of bulimia.
Yes, sometimes a dramatic event or a trauma can be the reason to develop an eating disorder. But you may be surprised to learn that 20-50% of women with eating disorders have a history of trauma, which means between 50 -80% don’t!
5. Bulimia is only about appearance and beauty
Eating disorders are related to psychological issues such as control, perfectionism, and low self-esteem. For some people, they are also thought to have a biologic component. Although it seems to be, bulimia is not only about appearance. Bulimia is a coping mechanism that people use when they are lonely, stressed, or bored. It helps them deal with negative emotions and feelings. Also, bulimia gives a false feeling of control. Regulating food intake, or purging gives the illusion that your life is under control.