Published On: Apr 14, 2022|Categories: Eating Disorder Information|

Bulimia and anorexia are two different types of eating disorders where someone hyper-focuses on losing weight, unfortunately in two very unhealthy — and dangerous — ways. While there are some similarities between the two, they aren’t actually the same, but it is possible for someone to struggle with both disorders at the same time.

Someone who suffers with an eating disorder typically has a distorted view of their body, specifically in terms of their weight, and as a result, they have an unhealthy relationship with food that is harmful to both their mental and physical health.

An eating disorder is characterized by an obsession over one’s weight and appearance, leading them to micromanage their food intake to a point similar to having an addiction. Anorexia and bulimia are the two most common eating disorders, both of which are specific to someone’s extreme fixation on losing weight. 

Anorexia versus bulimia

Someone who struggles with anorexia tends to adopt an extreme diet, one where they restrict their food intake to the point of becoming severely malnourished. They can also excessively exercise as another attempt to lose weight, another extreme habit that can cause them to faint, vomit or have other severe side effects.

Bulimia, on the other hand, revolves more around binging food, which is typically followed by purging, usually as a compulsion or as a result of guilt in response to the binging. Starvation sometimes plays a role in bulimia — which is often what triggers a binging episode — but it is primarily understood to revolve around binging and purging behavior.

If someone isn’t clearly malnourished or emaciated, it can be hard to distinguish if they are struggling with an eating disorder. It’s helpful to be able to recognize some of the common, different signs and symptoms someone would reflect if they have an eating disorder. It could potentially save your life, or that of a loved one.

Signs and symptoms of anorexia

A common misconception is that someone who struggles with anorexia is going to be clearly malnourished, to the extent of appearing as if they are merely skin and bones. But there are countless people who struggle with anorexia whose physical appearance is not yet reflective of their actions. 

It’s important to be able to recognize a variety of the signs and symptoms of anorexia, some of which include:

  • Eating very little at meals, or avoiding meals entirely
  • Having brittle, thin hair and nails as a result of severe nutritional deficiencies
  • Consistently experiencing fatigue, weakness, fainting
  • Dramatic drops in weight

Some of the physical symptoms you’d experience would be—dizziness, abdominal pain, low blood pressure, insomnia or memory loss.

Signs and symptoms of bulimia

Unlike anorexia, which is typically associated with abnormally low weight, bulimia is usually associated with drastic, constant weight fluctuations. It too can be difficult to recognize, but there are some signs you can watch out for.

Some of these signs include:

  • Frequent, inconsistent overeating
  • Disappearing soon after meals
  • Sounds and smells of vomiting
  • Puffy face and swollen neck

Some of the physical symptoms you’d experience would be acid reflux, increased cavities, a sore throat, dehydration or an irregular heartbeat.

Anorexia and bulimia are the two most common eating disorders, and being aware of their signs and symptoms will help you be able to better recognize one or both of these disorders in yourself, a friend or a family member.

The sooner someone receives treatment for an eating disorder, the sooner they can recover and return to a healthy lifestyle and regain their sense of joy.

Reach out if you or someone you love needs help

If you have identified that you or someone you love may be struggling with an eating disorder, it’s important that you seek professional help as soon as you can. While there are many people who recover from anorexia or bulimia with the assistance of a specialized therapist, these eating disorders can be fatal if left untreated. 

With the right treatment, you can not only fully recover, but you can find true peace and freedom in your relationship with food. You’ll be able to enjoy your favorite foods without binging, without restricting and without any guilt whatsoever.

Our team here at Seeds of Hope is ready to help. Give us a call today at 610-644-6464.

Understanding and Building a Healthy Diet Plan
A 6-Step Recovery Plan for Bulimia