What is Bulimia Nervosa?

Bulimia Nervosa (BN) an eating disorder where an individual will eat a significant amount of food over a limited period of time (known as bingeing) and will take measures following a binge to prevent weight gain. Of those with an eating disorder, 12% have Bulimia Nervosa.

Weight in individuals with Bulimia Nervosa may fluctuate – they may put on weight, lose weight, or stay at a consistent weight. This makes it easy to mis that someone is living with Bulimia Nervosa.

bulimia is disordered eating disorder behaviour and sufferers need support and medical help for recovery
Young boy with an eating disorder is sad and along and needs mental health and family support

An individual with Bulimia Nervosa may experience the following 

  • Basing their self-worth on their physical appearance
  • Intense fear of weight gain
  • Bingeing – eating a significant amount of food over a limited period of time, where the individual feels unable to stop
  • Compensatory behaviours to prevent weight gain from a binge including: vomiting, taking laxatives or diuretics, restricting food, engaging in excessive exercise
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Guilt and shame around eating behaviours
  • Hiding food
  • Physical, cognitive and psychological effects
Teenager suffering from bulimia is secretive and sad and needs eating disorder support for recovery.


If you suspect your loved one has Bulimia Nervosa, it is important to encourage them to seek help early. Your loved one may avoid getting help (especially if they do not believe they are unwell). It is important to keep persevering.


Your loved one’s treatment team will decide on the best type of treatment, and whether they can be cared for at home or in hospital.

Bulimia is binging and purging and can lead to serious health problems if eating disorder support isn't given.

While your loved one has the greatest chance of recovery by getting into treatment early, recovery is possible at any stage.

Families and carers can help loved ones recover, so where possible, stay connected with your loved one and their treatment team. 

For support in how to help your loved one, join a Carer Support Group.

Xavier’s older sister was diagnosed with Bulimia when she was 16 years old. Read his story.