Bulimia Nervosa, more commonly known as bulimia, is a serious psychiatric condition and eating disorder that is characterised by the repeated episodes of binge-eating followed by extreme compensatory behaviours. Binge episodes are associated with a sense of loss of control and are followed by a feeling of guilt and shame which can lead to behaviours such as self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, over-exercising or fasting.

Without treatment, the binge-and-purge cycle can lead to serious long-term health problems, such as tooth decay, gum disease and organ damage.

What can trigger bulimia?

While there is no single cause of bulimia, low self-esteem and concerns about weight and body image play major roles. As with eating disorders in general, bulimia sufferers tend to have trouble managing emotions in a healthy way, often turning to eating as an emotional release.

Major causes and risk factors that can trigger bulimia include:

  • Low self-esteem: People who see themselves as being useless or unattractive are at risk for bulimia.
  • Poor body image: Our cultural emphasis on thinness and beauty can lead to body dissatisfaction, particularly in adolescent females.
  • Appearance-orientated professions or hobbies: Dancing, modelling and other activities in which thinness is considered important can create an atmosphere in which weight obsessions can flourish and eating disorders, such as bulimia, can develop.
  • Major life changes: Stressful changes or transitions, such as puberty or breakups, can trigger bingeing and purging as a negative coping mechanism.
  • History of trauma or abuse: Incidences of bulimia are higher among people who have been sexually and/or physically abused. Traumatic or stressful life events, such as divorce or mourning are also believed to be possible triggers.

Signs and symptoms of bulimia

Due to the fact that a person with bulimia usually maintains a near-average body weight, it is often difficult to identify, allowing the condition to go undetected for long periods of time.

If you are worried that a loved one may have bulimia, here are the major warning signs to look for:

Binge eating signs

  • Lack of control over eating
  • Disappearance of food
  • Alternating between overeating and fasting
  • Secrecy surrounding eating

Purging signs

  • Rushing to the bathroom after meals
  • Overuse of laxatives or enemas
  • Excessive exercising
  • Smell of vomit

Physical signs

  • Puffy cheeks caused by repeated vomiting
  • Discoloured teeth
  • Scars on knuckles as a result of forcing finger down throat to induce vomiting
  • Frequent changes in weight


Since poor body image and low self-esteem often lie at the heart of bulimia, therapy forms an essential part of recovery. Sufferers tend to feel isolated and ashamed by their behaviour and therapists play a vital role in dealing with these feelings.

Treatment can be broken down into three major phases; however this may vary from person to person. Phase one typically focuses on breaking the binge-and-purge cycle by restoring normal eating patterns. This phase equips clients with skills that allow them to monitor their eating habits, avoid situations that trigger binges and work out how to cope with stress in healthy ways.

Phase two focuses on identifying and changing dysfunctional beliefs about weight, body shape and dieting.

The final stage focuses on targeting the underlying emotional issues that caused the eating disorder to initially develop.

Why choose Riverview Manor?

Our programme is psychotherapeutically-based and incorporates both traditional and modern approaches. We have a dedicated team of specialists that include psychologists, dieticians and a general practitioner, ensuring that each person receives the necessary tools required to guide them on their road to recovery.

How to enrol in the programme?

If you wish to enrol in our programme you can contact us on 033 710 1911, or you can click here.


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Although Riverview Manor does not run a strictly Halaal kitchen - we do make every effort to cater for our Muslim clients. Our staff are well trained and informed about islamic foods. We accept pre-cooked frozen meals from the Client’s family, stored and we reheat it separately.
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