Knowing how to help someone with bulimia is critical to their recovery as well as your relationship with the bulimic. Friends and family may initially feel powerless to supply bulimia help, but education and participation in the person's treatment can show loved ones how they can help.
How to Offer Bulimia Support
Most people don't fully understand bulimia and other eating disorders, so education is the first step in learning how to help someone living with the illness. Ways to educate yourself on how to offer bulimia help include:
- Learning from the bulimia treatment centers being attended by the bulimic
- Attending therapy or doctor visits (if the patient allows)
- Reading books on bulimia and bulimia support
- Contacting eating disorder agencies for educational material
- Attending bulimia support groups with or without the patient, or support groups only for family members and loved ones
Let the Bulimic Tell You How to Help Someone with Bulimia
Often, bulimics themselves know the best way you can support their bulimia recovery efforts. It's important to be open and nonjudgmental about the person's illness, their bulimia symptoms and behaviors, and their progress towards recovery. As you might imagine, it's embarrassing to talk about bingeing and purging. Being judgmental makes it difficult for the person to open up to you.
Parents of someone with bulimia have a special challenge in that they often blame themselves for their child's eating disorder. It's important to remember that it's better to focus on offering the patient with bulimia help than it is to focus on why the eating disorder occurred in the first place.
Some positive ways of communicating an offer of bulimia help include: 1
- Ask if it would be helpful to have or not have certain foods in the house
- Ask if planning activities for right after mealtime would help reduce the urge of the bulimic to purge
- Consciously listen when your loved one tells you about ways to offer bulimia support
- Allow the person to express his or her feelings
- When faced with concerns, be open and calm and do not place blame
Behaviors that Offer Bulimia Support
While no one can do the work of bulimia recovery except the patient, there are behaviors that can help during the recovery process. One form of bulimia support is offering encouragement: 2
- Understand that you can't fix your loved one's bulimia, so remove the word "solve" from your vocabulary. Bulimia is a mental illness that the individual must choose to treat. (read about treatment for bulimia ).
- Set a healthy example by healthy eating, healthy exercising and by creating a positive body image.
- Never make negative comments about your or anyone else's body.
- Be good to yourself and seek the help of a professional or a bulimia support group if needed.
- Schedule regular family mealtimes.
- Don't be the food police - the bulimic needs compassion, not nutritional advice.
- Don't use insults, fear, guilt, or embarrassment. Since bulimia is often caused by a form of stress and self-hate, negativity will only make it worse.
APA Reference Tracy, N.
(2022, January 4). Bulimia Support: How to Help Someone with Bulimia, HealthyPlace. Retrieved
on 2022, August 5 from https://www.healthyplace.com/eating-disorders/bulimia-nervosa/bulimia-support-how-to-help-someone-with-bulimia
Last Updated: January 12, 2022
How can you help someone with bulimia? Some ways in which you can help someone with bulimia as they go through professional treatment include the following:
- Remind them that you believe in them and their ability to recover.
- Spend time together and give the person the opportunity to talk.
- Organise activities that give them a chance to enjoy themselves.
What are bulimia knuckles?
Some are visible, such as calluses, abrasions, or scars on the backs of the hands or knuckles. “Bulimia knuckles” are a result of repeated self-induced vomiting
, and this is perhaps the most commonly-reported effect of bulimia on the skin and hands. more
Does bulimia release endorphins?
As bulimia develops, you may not eat at the beginning of the day. But later you may binge to comfort yourself, especially at the end of a stressful day. Vomiting causes the body to release endorphins
, which are natural chemicals that make you feel good. more
What is bulimia tongue?
The dental changes seen in many people with bulimia are often recognizable. Frequent vomiting may cause your salivary glands to swell and the tissues of your mouth and tongue to become dry, red and sore
. People with bulimia may have chronic sore throat and small hemorrhages under the skin of the palate. more
What is bulimia jaw? Unusual swelling in the jaw or cheeks
Swelling of the jaw or face during bulimic behaviors is often caused by the dehydration that the body is experiencing. Our bodies naturally try to retain as much water as they can during periods of extreme dehydration. more
Can children get bulimia?
Which children are at risk for bulimia nervosa? Most children with bulimia are girls in their teens
. They tend to be from a high socioeconomic group. They may have other mental health problems, such as anxiety or mood disorders. more
Is bulimia face permanent? After a prolonged period of regular eating, the parotid glands will most likely return to their original state
. Once they are no longer required to produce excessive amounts of saliva, they are able to adapt and shrink. more
What is hyper bulimia?
n. inordinate appetite and excessive intake of food
. It is observed, for example, in certain psychological disorders and in patients with hypothalamic lesions. See also bulimia; hyperphagia. more
What is bulimia face? When a person has been engaging in self-induced vomiting regularly and they suddenly stop engaging in the behaviour, their salivary glands in front of their ears (cheeks) may begin to swell
. This makes their cheeks look swollen. more
How does bulimia feel?
Symptoms of bulimia making yourself vomit, using laxatives, or doing an extreme amount of exercise after a binge to avoid putting on weight – this is called purging. fear of putting on weight. being very critical about your weight and body shape. mood changes – for example, feeling very tense or anxious
Does depression cause bulimia?
Overlapping Bulimia and Depression These two separate mental health conditions can often occur and develop together. For some teens, depression can precede the development of bulimia
; for others, the opposite is true, where an eating disorder may be the trigger for depression. more
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