Symptoms - Bulimia

The main signs of bulimia are eating a large amount of food over a very short time (binge eating) and then ridding your body of the extra food (purging) by making yourself vomit, taking laxatives or exercising excessively, or a combination of these.

Other signs of bulimia include: 

  • fear of putting on weight
  • being very critical about your weight and body shape
  • mood changes – feeling very tense or anxious, for example 
  • thinking about food a lot
  • feeling guilty and ashamed, and behaving secretively
  • avoiding social activities that involve food
  • feeling like you have no control over your eating

You may also notice physical signs like:

  • feeling tired
  • a sore throat from being sick
  • bloating or tummy pain
  • a puffy face
  • self-harming

Warning signs of bulimia in someone else

The following warning signs could indicate that someone you care about has an eating disorder:

  • eating a lot of food, very fast
  • going to the bathroom a lot after eating, often returning looking flushed
  • excessively or obsessively exercising

Getting help

Getting help and support as soon as possible gives you the best chance of recovering from bulimia.

If you think you may have bulimia, see your GP as soon as possible.

If you are concerned that a family member or friend may have bulimia, let them know you are worried about them and encourage them to see their GP. You could offer to go along with them.

You can also talk in confidence to an adviser from eating disorders charity Beat, by calling their adult helpline on 0808 801 0677 or their youth helpline on 0808 801 0711.

Page last reviewed: 10/10/2017
Next review due: 10/10/2020