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Eating Disorder?

Question:

Recently my friends at work have been making comments to me regarding my eating habits. Having experienced family members with eating disorders I am quite familiar with signs and symptoms, however I don’t think that I display classic signs. I am a manager of an upscale, high stress, energetic restaurant. Food is always around me, I eat what ever I want, whenever I want and don’t really think too much about it. On the other hand I do “get sick” often (once or twice a week) which I attribute to the stress of the job. I never intentionally or consciously make myself purge. I don’t think of myself as heavy or overweight. I’m 5’6″ and weight about 115 pounds. Can you tell me if there is a type of bulimia that I’m not aware of, and if so where can I find information on it.

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Answer:

Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by binge eating about two or more times per week for at least three months. Along with the binge eating are “inappropriate compensatory behaviors” (purging behaviors) designed to compensate for the bingeing such as induced vomiting, too much exercise, laxative abuse, fasting, etc. Bulimics are generally of normal weight and don’t appear to have any eating problems to the casual observer.

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p>To the extent that you do not engage in any ‘compensatory behaviors’ you would appear safe from a diagnosis of Bulimia. According to the DSM-IV, you can’t have Bulimia without these compensatory behaviors. However, this doesn’t mean that you are free from “official” eating problems. DSM recognizes the diagnosis of Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified as a catch-all diagnosis that can include Bulimic-like bingeing and purging behaviors that occur at less than twice per week in frequency, and also binge-only forms of eating disorders where food binges occur, but there are no purging behaviors. This latter possibility – binge eating disorder has only recently received significant study.

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p>I have no real sense for what might be troubling you. However, it does appear possible that you have some eating or other health problem. Stressful job or not – it is not normal to vomit twice per week on a regular basis. Vomiting itself can cause significant health and dental problems. Please do visit with an eating disorders specialist and maybe also with an MD to see what is going on.

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