People with bulimia usually try to hide their symptoms, and contrary to popular belief, they often do not look extremely thin. However, by paying attention to detail, we can spot the presence of this disorder and provide the necessary attention and support.

In this article we will see how to help a person with bulimia through various techniques based on psychological support , and also give an overview of the concept of bulimia and its main causes, as well as associated disorders.

What is bulimia?

To properly establish how to help a person with bulimia, it is important to know what the condition is.

Bulimia is an eating disorder in which the person with bulimia feels an irrational need to binge on food . These binges occur over a short period of time, and later the guilt of having eaten in this way leads the subject to induced vomiting (either by manual techniques or by taking laxatives) or other forms of purging or attempts to lose weight.

Clearly, bulimia has an impact on the person, leading to significant discomfort, both physical (vomiting and harmful eating patterns) and mental (anxiety and inability to regulate binge eating behavior). Intense states of anxiety as eating time approaches are characteristic of people with bulimia.

Causes of this eating disorder

The origin of this disorder depends on various social, psychological and biological factors . People who are more likely to have bulimia are usually constantly concerned about their weight, even though it is within normal parameters.

Subjects with obesity problems or those who are unhappy with their physical condition and have a marked rejection of their own body or a particular characteristic of their body, usually their weight (body dysmorphia), are at greater risk of developing bulimia.

Another circumstance that promotes the origin of this disorder is the need to comply with the beauty standards promoted by some brands through the dissemination of their marketing and advertising pieces.

Low self-esteem and personal insecurities are some of the most common psychological factors that can lead people to develop bulimia.

How do you help a person with bulimia?

In the next few lines we will see a list of tips on how to help a person with bulimia, explained to make them easier to apply.

1. Avoid criticizing your weight

People with bulimia have a negative thought pattern regarding their own body . This is why any criticism, however constructive and well-intentioned, will trigger significant discomfort in them. The ideal is not to emphasize their physical appearance during conversations.

2. Help them understand that they have a problem

The first step for the person to initiate a significant change in their dysfunctional eating habits is to understand that their behavior is causing them serious health problems

It is important to talk to the person and make them see that the physical is not everything, and that physical and mental health are important, as well as showing them that traction is a habit that should be corrected with therapy.

3. Accompany you to therapy

It is not enough just to provide support, it is necessary to make that person understand that the best source of help comes from a behavioural specialist . Psychotherapy allows people to stabilize and decrease the binges and purges, as well as the other symptoms associated with this.

The therapist will be able to determine the exact triggers of these behaviors and begin a treatment plan that specifically addresses the subject’s thoughts that need to be restructured.

4. Accompany without overwhelming

The accompaniment, complementary to the therapy, should be carefully carried out by the person who provides the support, taking into account that the subjects with bulimia are quite anxious .

It is necessary to be patient and gradually bring the subject back to his eating habits, making him see why he should eat properly.

5. Accompany the nutritionist

Once our accompaniment and therapy begin to bear fruit and the person understands for himself that he must change his eating habits, it is time to suggest that he attends with the nutritionist, who will be able to indicate to him what is the best diet to stay healthy beyond the binges.

6. Help improve self-concept

If we can get the person to have a better self-concept, we are taking giant steps in winning the battle against bulimia, we must make the subject understand that we are more than our physical appearance; helping him to discover what his main virtues and strengths are helps a lot.

Bibliographic references:

  • Bulik, C.M.; Marcus, M.D.; Zerwas, S.; Levine, M.D.; La Via, M. (2012). The changing “weightscape” of bulimia nervosa. The American Journal of Psychiatry. 169 (10): 1031-6
  • Palmer R. (2004). Bulimia nervosa: 25 years on. The British Journal of Psychiatry : the Journal of Mental Science 185 (6): 447-8.