Bulimia nervosa is a type of eating disorder. Those who develop it may find themselves eating large amounts of food in one sitting (known as bingeing). Following this, they will typically feel guilty and ashamed of what they've done. This leads to them wanting to get rid of the food, usually through vomiting or using laxatives. This is called purging.
The cycle of binging and purging is central to bulimia nervosa and for those caught up in it, it can feel as if they are trapped. Thoughts about food, body weight and image become all-consuming. Eating disorders affect the way you think about yourself and the way you approach food/eating. They are more likely to develop in women, however they are becoming increasingly common in men. It is estimated that 1.6 million people in Britain suffer from an eating problem.
People with an eating disorder tend to use their eating habits to cope with underlying emotional distress. There is often a great fear of gaining weight and eating high calorie/fatty foods. For those with bulimia nervosa, the fear causes them to try and restrict what they are eating. This can then lead to binge eating, where large quantities of food are eaten in a short space of time. Feelings of shame, guilt and fear of gaining weight are common after a binge, leading to a desire to 'undo' the eating. This purging can take many forms, from over-exercising to forced vomiting.