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It's hard to pin point the exact bulimia causes in different people...
I suffered from bulimia for nearly a decade. I didn't know why I was bulimic. I just thought I was weak, pathetic and lacked self control.
Now I know that I was none of these things! I was a great girl who had fallen into a scary and dangerous trap. I had become bulimic for a number of reasons...
There are also many other bulimia causes... Things that may trigger or maintain bulimia. I'll go through 7 of the major ones below and do my best to answer the question 'why do people become bulimic?'
Bulimia does seem to often run in families. This could be because of genetic factors or, it could be because family members live in the same environment. eg: An environment where a lot of emphasis is placed on being thin and beautiful. Or, where there's been a lot of focus on dieting.
I believe that dieting triggered my bulimia - but the environment that I grew up in could have planted the first seeds of dieting in my mind...
In the community where I grew up, there was a lot of emphasis placed on dieting and on 'good' and 'bad' foods. I think over time, this rubbed off on me and I embarked on my first diet when I was just a kid. I remember my granny (who was a beautician) selling weight loss shakes and wishing I could get my hands on some of them.
I grew up believing that losing weight was something sought after and to be proud of.
Eating Disorders in Children are often triggered by their role models (parents, celebrities, etc) being very concerned about weight and food.
Bulimia and Sexual Abuse have been found to have strong links. This doesn't mean that everyone who suffers from bulimia has been sexually abused... It just means that if you have been assaulted in this way, statistically your chances of developing bulimia as a 'coping mechanism' are increased.
This is one of the most traumatic bulimia causes that I can imagine. If this has happened to you: Please, talk to somebody about it and get help. You don't deserve to suffer because of somebody else's actions. You are a wonderful person who deserves to life a life free from bulimia!
For some extra guidance, please read Bulimia and Sexual Abuse: 3 Steps to Recovery
Have you ever looked in a magazine and longed to have the body of some of the models? I know I used to do this all the time! It's hard not to be effected by the beautiful images which we see all around us.
The problem isn't that these women are thin and beautiful. The problem is that the media depicts their lives as perfect. They have have perfect homes, fashion, romances, families and so on. Subconsciously we put 2 and 2 together. BINGO! If you're thin - you will be happy and successful too...
Dead wrong. You might just end up with Bulimia... With sores around your mouth.. rotten teeth, gray eyes and terrible depression.
The media is one of the leading bulimia causes. They trigger dieting and that so often leads to bulimia. We can't stop them from using these images - but we can act by not buying glossy or gossip magazines full of stick thin models and over photoshopped celebrities.
People with low self esteem are more likely to suffer from bulimia. This is often because they try to change their bodies through losing weight and dieting. Low self esteem and a lack of self kindness are one of the significant bulimia causes.
Make sure that you hang out with people that make you feel good about yourself. Even if this means that you need to find an entirely new group of friends. If somebody in your family lowers your self esteem you need to try and talk to them about it. It can be as simple as "Please don't say those things, I try to act strong - but they really hurt me"
Give yourself positive reinforcement everyday to help you overcome any self-esteem issues that you may have. Really boost yourself by highlighting what you're doing well. It might feel forced at first - but it's extremely important!
It was when I first immigrated and started at a new school that my bulimia flew out of control. The trauma of immigration had left my self esteem almost non-existent. This resulted in my trying to lose weight by dieting. The diets along with depression resulted in out of control binging and purging.
Dieting is dangerous and can spin out of control. The deprivation of food during dieting can bite you in the bum and trigger binge eating...
Binge eating can make you feel disgusted with yourself and uncomfortable. This often leads to throwing up, exercising excessively or taking laxatives to try rid yourself of the food.
Dieting is a key phase of the bulimia cycle... Dieting leads to bingeing leads to purging.
You may think that there is no link to your bulimia and dieting... Maybe you stopped dieting years ago, but remain bulimic? There is a reason for this...
The repetition of the binge and purge cycle over the years has now been built it into your brain as neural pathways.
Neural pathways are real physical connections which make you feel as if you need to binge. To read about this is more depth, check out my article: The Cause of Bulimia: What Caused me to Steal, Lie and Cheat to Feed my Binge Urges. (Opens in new tab)
Sadly, many professions and sports require you to look a specific way. They require you to be thin, beautiful, toned etc. Jobs and sports such as these have high numbers of bulimia sufferers.
Dancers with bulimia, models with bulimia, gymnasts with bulimia, athletes with bulimia, and actors with bulimia are all common.
When I was a springboard diver and training for the Olympics, I felt immense pressure to be thin. To read my article containing advice to athletes with bulimia, click here.
If you are suffering from an eating disorder as a result of your job or sport... Please, get treatment for bulimia as soon as possible. It could cost you your career - as it did with mine.
I know many people who developed bulimia after something important changed in their lives. I believe this is our own way of trying to be 'in control'. We feel out of control in our lives - and so we try to control our bodies... Through dieting - which so often leads to binge eating, guilt and purging.
It might be immigration (this was mine!) or it might be a divorce, moving to a new school, starting college, a break up an so on. Anything that makes you lose your sense of security and your sense of who you are. This can leave your self esteem in tatters and that could lead onto dieting and bulimia.
As human beings we are resistant to change. That's why it's important to address your psychological needs when you undergo a big change in life. Be kind and gentle with yourself :)
You can discover a life of freedom, peace and happiness - I promise :)
Do one thing today that will be a positive step forward towards bulimia recovery...
It could be...
Whatever you decide to do it up to you - challenge yourself gently.
I promise that every bit of effort you put into recovery will be worth it!
Other recovery tips, articles and advice you may find helpful:
Article by Shaye Boddington
Author of your-bulimia-recovery.com
and creator of The Bulimia Recovery Program and Community