Do people actually lose weight from bulimia

Bulimia - secret weight control

They carefully and often cleverly hide their addiction from others. They regularly suffer from uncontrollable binge eating. Shame and self-disgust then drive them to immediately get rid of the amount of food they have eaten by vomiting, purging or doing excessive sport.

How is bulimia expressed?

Bulimia or vomiting addiction is an eating disorder that is one of the mental illnesses. Bulimic sufferers are extremely worried about their figure and weight. Their perception of their bodies is very distorted: they consider themselves too fat and ugly, although objectively viewed they are attractive and slim. In addition, there is their extreme fear of increasing.

Therefore, all of your thoughts and feelings revolve almost exclusively around the topics of eating and losing weight. Bulimia dominates your entire daily routine. In addition, they are often very pessimistic and have low self-esteem. Some suffer from depressive moods and are suicidal.

There are basically two forms of bulimia: While the so-called purging type (purge: cleansing) deliberately vomits food or uses laxatives, the non-purging type tries to reduce the calories consumed by fasting or intense exercise.

What is the difference between bulimia and anorexia

The hallmark of anorexia is compulsive starvation in order to get thinner and thinner. Eating is torture for anorexic people, they avoid it as much as possible, sometimes even completely. Anorexics are therefore usually extremely thin and severely underweight. Bulimics, on the other hand, usually have a completely normal weight. Unlike anorexics, they alternate strict diets with binge eating. But the boundaries between the two diseases can also become blurred; bulimia often precedes anorexia.

What are the causes?

As with most mental disorders, different triggers usually come together. This includes:

  • Unrealistic ideals of beauty: Especially in certain professional groups, which include dancers, models or flight attendants, figure and external attributes play an enormous role. Those who absolutely want to live up to this ideal of beauty are also more likely to take drastic measures to become and stay slim.
  • Negative self-image and high standards: Those affected want to be perfect and are very ambitious. They usually put themselves under massive pressure to succeed. At the same time, they often lack positive role models for a relaxed self-image.
  • Family problems: Family members of those affected often suffer from addictions such as alcoholism. These addictions are usually also kept secret or not addressed. Those affected learned this behavior pattern early on.
  • Biological risk factors: Results from twin research suggest a hereditary factor. Because if one of the identical twins has bulimia, the other has a higher risk of bulimia than other siblings.

In Germany around 600,000 people suffer from bulimia. Over 90 percent of all those with bulimia are girls and women. The disease usually begins between the ages of 15 and 35 years. The number of those affected is particularly high among the 18 to 20 year olds.

How is bulimia treated?

There are basically three forms of treatment for bulimia in Germany:

  • stationary,
  • part inpatient / day clinic and
  • outpatient treatments.

Which form is best in each individual case depends on the severity of the disease and the individual situation. Most patients can be treated on an outpatient basis.

At the beginning, physical damage that can occur with a long-standing bulimia is treated first. For depressed bulimics, antidepressants can help reduce acute eating pressure.

The aim of treatment is that patients learn to eat healthily and regularly again in special therapeutic eating groups. Psychotherapy can help patients identify the thoughts, evaluations, and beliefs that led to bulimia. In the second step of cognitive behavioral therapy, new healthy behaviors are learned. Movement, art and music therapy primarily train self-awareness and promote joie de vivre.

What are the warning signs of bulimia?

  • Are your thoughts constantly revolving around your diet, figure and weight?
  • Are you very afraid of getting too fat?
  • Are you convinced that you need to keep losing weight even though others think you are slim?
  • Do you try to follow the strictest dietary rules and divide your food into allowed and prohibited foods?
  • Do you suffer from recurring binge eating, in which you eat tons of food?
  • Do you regularly feel compelled to vomit, take a laxative, or exercise excessively after eating?
  • Do you suffer from health problems such as tooth decay, severe heartburn or swollen salivary glands?
  • Have you withdrawn from others to hide your eating habits?


If you are looking for advice and help on the subject of eating disorders, you can find the addresses of advice centers in your area on the website of the Federal Center for Health Education:, keyword "Advice and help".