Anorexia and Bulimia are both serious eating disorders, but they are often confused. While they are similar in some ways, they also have some distinct differences. If you’re worried that someone you love may have an eating disorder, you might need some more information before talking to them about it.
Anorexia vs Bulimia: definitions
Anorexia sufferers keep themselves from eating in order to lose weight. They can’t see their bodies the way they really are, to the point that stick-thin anorexics look in the mirror and see only fat. Their response to this distorted body image is discipline. They force themselves to dramatically reduce the amount of food they eat. They starve themselves. If you know someone who eats only tiny amounts of food and makes frequent and insecure comments about weight, they may be anorexic.
Bulimia sufferers have the same complex about body and weight issues, but address the “problem” differently. They binge and purge. This means that they eat large amounts of food and then expel it from their bodies before it truly converts into energy (or in their minds – fat). Bulimics often purge by forcing themselves to vomit, either by gagging themselves or taking a substance that will induce vomiting. A small number of bulimics use laxatives or other means to expel their food.
Anorexia vs Bulimia: detecting the signs
Anorexia is often easier to detect than bulimia, because its symptoms are more difficult to hide. Anorexics lose weight quickly. They often wear baggy clothes to conceal their weight loss, and passionately defend their right to decide what and when to eat. They avoid social situations that might make them eat, like Thanksgiving dinners, parties, or family get-togethers.
Bulimia sufferers have similar body issues but have a “better” system of hiding their behaviors. They purge secretly, and many bulimics maintain a body weight that is slightly more or less than their ideal body weight. The lack of dramatic weight loss doesn’t mean that their condition is any less dangerous. Vital minerals and nutrients are drained from their bodies, and regular vomiting causes serious respiratory and dental problems. In any case of Anorexia vs Bulimia – Bulimia is more difficult to detect.
Anorexia vs Bulimia: Prognosis
Anorexia and Bulimia are both serious eating disorders with frighteningly low recovery rates. Many people live with these conditions and struggle for many years. Recovery is possible and sufferers do find balance and cultivate better relationships with food, but it is not easy. The key is investigating all of the techniques and options for recovery, and finding the one that works best for you or your loved one.