Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterised by repeated episodes of binge eating followed by compensatory behaviours. The binges involve eating a large amount of food to the point of being uncomfortably full in a short amount of time (usually less than 2 hours). They are also accompanied by a feeling of loss of control making it hard to stop eating when satiated. 

Compensatory behaviours can include the following: 

  • Vomiting
  • Misusing laxatives or diuretics
  • Excessive exercise
  • Fasting

According to a 2018 study, 1-1.5% of adults and close to 2% of young people suffer from bulimia nervosa. However, that number could be higher as some people suffer from it in secret and are not diagnosed. 

Warning signs and symptoms

The symptoms of bulimia include but are not limited to the following:

  • Excessive preoccupation with body image
  • Digestive issues such as bloating, abdominal cramps and constipation
  • Swelling of cheeks and jawline 
  •  Teeth problems (cavities, enamel erosion) 
  • Imbalance in electrolytes (potassium, sodium, magnesium) which could lead to irregular heart beat or heart failure
  • Irregular menstrual cycle or amenorrhea (loss of period)
  • Social withdrawal
  • Feelings of shame, guilt and disgust after episodes of bingeing and purging


The risk factors for developing bulimia nervosa are not fully understood but we know that the triggers could be multifactorial. The causes include but are not limited to the following:

  • Genetics: it’s been shown through some studies that the likelihood of suffering from bulimia could be higher if it runs in the family. 
  • Dieting or any other forms of food restriction: Due to societal pressure of conforming to unrealistic standards of thinness, many people could restrict their food intake to try to “fit in”. However, the restriction could trigger a strong urge for the body to binge-eat in order to compensate for the lack of food. 

That pursuit of thinness is even more alarming considering that it can start at a very young age. In fact, according to the National Eating Disorder Association, close to 69% of children aged 6–12 are influenced by those unrealistic standards of what a “perfect” body should look like as portrayed by pictures in the media. As a result, 47% of them would want to lose weight to look like those pictures. 

  • Emotional distress or trauma: An eating disorder can go beyond food and body image. It can be used as a coping mechanism to deal with uncomfortable emotions such as anxiety, stress, anger, etc. Eating can be used as a means to fill a void and purging could become an unhealthy attempt to feel in control again and boost self-esteem or self-adequacy.


A person suffering from bulimia can become lost in a dangerous cycle of losing control with food and attempts to compensate, therefore triggering feelings of shame, guilt and disgust.

The road to bulimia recovery often involves the help of various professionals such as psychologist, doctor and nutritionists specialized in eating disorders. At our bulimia treatment clinic, one of our eating-disorder dietitians works closely with the individual to dig deeper to the root causes of the issue and help the latter understand the eating disorder itself, its functions and its detrimental impact on their well-being. 

Nutritional strategies will be put in place to help the person meet his energy and nutrient needs while working on normalizing the fear foods in order to decrease the binge-eating episodes. 

The help of a nutritionist specialized in bulimia is undeniably important to help you in your journey to build a healthy relationship with food. Recovery from bulimia is possible and we are here to support you! Contact us!


“After finally having the courage to talk about my relationship with food, the nutritionist validated and normalized my feelings, which made me feel safe. She helped me in developing a more confident mindset when approaching food and my body image. I am thankful for the sessions I had with her, and I feel so much happier because of them. I recommend the NutriVie Santé team as they are very knowledgeable and approachable!”

“The dietitian at NutriVie Santé is one of the kindest and most compassionate professionals I have ever worked with. She made me feel understood and comfortable from the moment I stepped into her office. She has incredible knowledge and expertise, which she shares in a way that is accessible to her clients. Appointments with her were indispensable when it came to changing my relationship with food, exercise and my body. While I’m still on this journey of rejecting diet culture and embracing intuitive eating, I cannot thank the nutritionist enough for all the progress she has helped me to make.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a diagnosis or a referral to be seen at our treatment clinic?

A diagnosis or referral from a doctor is not required to start treatment with one of our eating-disorder nutritionists. In fact, it could prove to be beneficial to start the recovery process even if your symptoms do not meet the diagnostic criterias yet. This is because early intervention in the treatment process can minimize the detrimental effects of the eating disorder on the sufferer and enhance chances of long-term recovery.

Therefore, do not hesitate to contact us.  Our dietitians specialized in bulimia nervosa will be able to help you heal your relationship even if you don’t have a referral from a doctor. 

How many sessions do I need for bulimia recovery?

Since everyone’s needs are different and given that the bulimia treatment plan and intervention are very individualized for each person’s needs and reality, the number of sessions varies from one person to the other. 

At the beginning, the treatment process can involve a weekly or biweekly appointments. However, nothing is imposed and our eating disorder dietitian will respect your pace. 

Are sessions covered by insurance?

Our services are typically covered by most private insurance companies and may also qualify for tax deductions, making it more accessible to get nutritional support for your eating disorder recovery journey. All of our eating-disorder specialists are members of the Ordre Professionnel des Diététistes et Nutritionnistes du Québec (ODNQ). Therefore, do not hesitate to consult your plan to see if you can benefit from any coverage. 

How do I make an appointment?

One of our nutritionists at NutriVie Santé will gladly help you in your recovery from bulimia nervosa. You can simply write to us or call us. We will take some time with you to explain our approach and discuss about your needs and eventually book an appointment for you. 


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