Bulimic behavior has two phases: the binge and the purge.
Although there are certainly individual variations, a binge is defined as the rapid consumption of a large amount of high-calorie food in a short amount of time. A binge can consist of almost anything. Often it can depend on what is available in terms of food and finances.
Once a binge begins, it is very difficult to interrupt. People often describe feeling in a trance or a stupor; food can be consumed so rapidly that it is not even tasted. An average bulimic binge may consist of about 1,500 to 3,000 calories, although some individuals have reported eating up to 60,000 calories or more during a binge.
Having said this, sometimes people purge without actually bingeing; unplanned eating creates such guilt and anxiety that those people feel driven to eliminate or undo any food that feels as though it were “too much.” Often the binge ends only when food or finances are depleted, leaving the bulimic with severe abdominal and emotional discomfort.
Characteristics of Binge Eating:
Bingeing usually occurs in secrecy.
Binge episodes may be planned or unplanned.
Usually the episodes are characterized by rapid, frenzied consumption.
Some people report feeling as though they enter into an altered state when the binge begins. Many bulimics report that they do not even taste much of what they consume during a binge.
The most common triggers for binge eating include:
Negative mood states
Hunger due to dietary restriction
Negative feelings related to one’s body image
As many as 70 to 80 percent of bulimics purge by means of self-induced vomiting while 30 percent use laxatives.