Lifestyle and home remedies
Although you can't treat bulimia on your own, in addition to professional treatment, follow these self-care tips for bulimia:
- Stick to your treatment plan. Don't skip therapy sessions and try not to stray from meal plans, even if they make you uncomfortable.
- Learn about bulimia. Education about your condition can empower you and motivate you to stick to your treatment plan.
- Get the right nutrition. If you aren't eating well or you're frequently purging, it's likely your body isn't getting all of the nutrients it needs. Eating regularly and not restricting your food intake is the first step in overcoming bulimia. Talk to your doctor about appropriate vitamin and mineral supplements.
- Stay in touch. Don't isolate yourself from caring family members and friends who want to see you get healthy. Understand that they have your best interests at heart and that nurturing, caring relationships are healthy for you.
- Be kind to yourself. Resist urges to weigh yourself or check yourself in the mirror frequently. These may do nothing but fuel your drive to maintain unhealthy habits.
- Be cautious with exercise. Talk to your health care provider about what kind of physical activity, if any, is appropriate for you, especially if you exercise excessively to burn off post-binge calories.
Coping and support
You may find it difficult to cope with bulimia when you're hit with mixed messages by the media, culture, coaches, family, and maybe your own friends or peers. So how do you cope with a disease that can be deadly when you're also getting messages that being thin is a sign of success?
- Remind yourself what a healthy weight is for your body.
- Resist the urge to diet or skip meals, which can trigger binge eating.
- Don't visit websites that advocate or glorify eating disorders.
- Identify troublesome situations that are likely to trigger thoughts or behaviors that may contribute to your bulimia and develop a plan to deal with them.
- Have a plan in place to cope with the emotional distress of setbacks.
- Look for positive role models who can help boost your self-esteem.
- Find pleasurable activities and hobbies that can help distract you from thoughts about bingeing and purging.
- Build up your self-esteem by forgiving yourself, focusing on the positive, and giving yourself credit and encouragement.
If you have bulimia, you and your family may find support groups helpful for encouragement, hope and advice on coping. Group members can truly understand what you're going through because they've been there. Ask your doctor if he or she knows of a group in your area.
Coping advice for parents
If you're the parent of someone with bulimia, you may blame yourself for your child's eating disorder. But eating disorders have many causes, and parenting style is not considered a primary cause. It's best to focus on how you can help your child now.
Here are some suggestions for supporting your child:
- Ask your child what you can do to help. For example, ask if your teenager would like you to plan family activities after meals to reduce the temptation to purge.
- Listen. Allow your child to express feelings.
- Schedule regular family mealtimes. Eating at routine times is important to help reduce binge eating.
- Let your teenager know any concerns you have. But do this without placing blame.
Remember that eating disorders affect the whole family, and you need to take care of yourself, too. If you feel that you aren't coping well with your teen's illness, you might benefit from professional counseling. Or ask your child's doctor about support groups for parents of children with eating disorders.
Although there's no sure way to prevent bulimia, you can steer someone toward healthier behavior or professional treatment before the situation worsens. Here's how you can help:
- Foster and reinforce a healthy body image in your children, no matter what their size or shape.
- Talk with your pediatrician. Pediatricians may be in a good position to identify early indicators of an eating disorder and help prevent its development.
- If you notice a relative or friend who seems to have food issues that could lead to or indicate an eating disorder, consider supportively talking to the person about these issues and ask how you can help.