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Our craving for food. An attempt at explaining it.

Updated on February 14, 2014

Princess Diana

Princess Diana at an International Red Cross Briefing in Luanda, Angola. - January 1997
Princess Diana at an International Red Cross Briefing in Luanda, Angola. - January 1997 | Source

The types of bulimia

There are two types:

1. The purging type where the person during the episodes of bulimia nervosa, does engage in self induced vomiting, or the misuse of diuretics or enemas.

2. The non-purging type where the person during the episodes of bulimia nervosa, has used other inappropriate compensatory behavior in order prevent weight gain such as fasting and excessive exercise.

What is Bulimia?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines bulimia in five main categories:

1. as recurrent episodes of binge eating in a specified, discrete period of time; and a sense of lack of control over eating during the episode.

2. recurrent inappropriate compensatory behavior in order prevent weight gain, such as self induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, excessive exercises, enemas and fasting.

3. the binge eating and inappropriate compensatory eating occur at-least a week for 3 months.

4. self evaluation is unduly influenced by body shape and weight.

5. the disturbance does not exclusively occur during episodes of Anorexia Nervosa.

The extra dimensions to consider when dealing with bulimia

There are cultural, gender, and age related features of the disorder. Women, girls, boys and men go through the phases of bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa differently. The motive could be the body size in vogue or to look like a favorite star. But behind this all is the physiological underpinning. “Motivation typically involves needs, drives, goals and goal attainment. Three types of motives are primary, stimulus and secondary motives. Most primary motives maintain homeostasis. Hunger is influenced by the stomach, blood sugar levels, metabolism in the liver, fat stores in the body, activity in the hypothalamus, diet and other factors. Eating disorders are serious and sometimes fatal problems,” Dennis Coon, 2001, page 191. Bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa in teenage boys and girls is mostly induced by stress and peer pressure. Stress can be a reaction to parental neglect, availability of a certain class of foods or simply inappropriate practices. They do impact the daily functioning of individuals in many ways as those suffering cope with this lifestyle and decision. Like any form behavioral aspect, there may be frustrations or a realization of results. Stress is a major risk factor. Frustrations, emotional appraisals by peers or parents and conflict may trigger behavioral patterns. “Major behavioral reactions to frustration include persistence, more vigorous responding, circumvention, direct aggression, displaced aggression, escape or withdrawal,” Dennis Coon, 2001, page 209.

Princess Diana

Princess Diana
Princess Diana | Source

Should families be concerned?

Families should be concerned about bulimia, anorexia and obesity. “In sedentary, well nourished populations in developed countries, poor food choices abound and obesity rates are rising. Advise to eat fresh fruits and vegetables is being ignored. French fries have become the most common vegetable consumed in America,” Bill Sardi, 2004, page

Bulimia can be overcome

Is it true one can overcome bulimia?

See results

Princess Diana and bulimia

According to BBC, Princess Diana (RIP) first revealed her own battle with bulimia in 1992. It was described in Andrew Morton's controversial book Diana: Her True Story. In later interviews she spoke of the "secret disease" that had preyed on her for many years. "You inflict it upon yourself because your self-esteem is at a low ebb, and you don't think you're worthy or valuable," the Princess told the BBC One programme Panorama.

Princess Diana

Princess Diana and Jeffrey Archer at the Mirabelle Restaurant. - November 1993
Princess Diana and Jeffrey Archer at the Mirabelle Restaurant. - November 1993 | Source

Princess Diana

Princess Diana and Prince Harry leave the theatre after a performance of 'Oliver'. - December 1994
Princess Diana and Prince Harry leave the theatre after a performance of 'Oliver'. - December 1994 | Source

Good News: Bulimia can be treated!

If the one with the disorder opens up and is diagnosed, bulimia can be controlled and eventually cured. Psychotherapy is the most common treatment for bulimia. Psychotherapy can involve a significant time and financial commitment, particularly if you are struggling with other issues (sexual abuse, depression, substance use, or relationship problems). Psychotherapy can be very helpful in addressing not only your disordered eating, but also your overall emotional problems and happiness. The focus of psychotherapy treatment will be to address the underlying emotional and cognitive issues that result in the disordered eating.

A binge eating test

There are tests such as:

A binge eating test has been published and can be used to answer the questions. Once filled it can be shared with one's care provider. In the questionnaire if one answered "yes" to six or more questions in this binge eating test, immediately request an appointment with a doctor or therapist to rule out an eating disorder. Sharing the results with one's doctor or therapist helps in early diagnosis of the disorder.

What you can do to help one person overcoming bulimia

1. Know the signs of Bulimia

2. Know the signs of anorexia nervosa.

3. Organize or cause conversation around bulimia and anorexia.

4. Engage your friends in learning how to talk, educate and counsel communities about bulimia.

5. Seek information to improve your understanding of bulimia.

6. Avail your self opportunities for gaining skills to approach an individual with this disorder.


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    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      No I am far from Sochi thank you

    • Tom Mukasa profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Mukasa 

      5 years ago from Lives in USA

      Thanks DDE. Are you somewhere in Sochi???

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      An informative and helpful hub on food cravings the signs are so true thank you for this useful hub.


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