* please note, I am no dietitian, Doctor, therapist etc. I am purely speaking from personal experience & what I have learnt from professionals discussing my case. Also please note, I am not recovered, I am still going through my journey and struggling with the below myself.
1. Dietary Restriction & Purging
Any form of dietary restriction and or purging will, over time, lead to an energy deficit in the body and malnutrition. In response, your body’s metabolism slows down and digestion is disturbed.
You may not have considered this but your body needs adequate energy (calories) and nutrition for effective digestion.
- Food stays in the stomach longer and its passage through the gut is prolonged because the muscles of the Gastrointestinal Tract have been weakened. (Weakened abdominal muscles may also cause the belly to look bloated)
- Food does not get broken down properly as the digestive enzymes and healthy levels of bacteria are compromised
- Fermentation, gas and bloating.
- Poor food absorption and assimilation; perpetuating a lack of energy and nutrition in the system, causing more bloating and digestive distress.
2. Water Retention
The body tends to retain water whenever there is dehydration: And because all forms of purging; vomiting, over-exercising, laxatives and or diuretics, cause dehydration, water retention is common in bulimics along with the accompanying bloating.
This can be exacerbated if there have been disturbances in the electrolyte balance, a common side effect of purging.
3. Anxiety & Stress
It might seem strange that anxiety and stress can cause bulimia bloating but because the brain and the gut are connected by the central nervous system, you cannot separate what is happening in the brain, with regards anxiety and stress, and what happens in the gut.
Whenever the brain perceives a threat to your survival, or there’s some kind of anxiety or stress and or low blood-glucose concentration, the flight-fight mechanism is activated and cortisol is released.
And there’s no doubt about it…
- Bulimia is a threat to your survival.
- Living with bulimia causes great anxiety and stress
- Low blood-glucose is induced by not eating enough, ‘starving’ yourself or bingeing then throwing up.
4. Food Allergies or Sensitivities
A weakened and compromised gastrointestinal tract can lead to food allergies, sensitives or intolerances, all of which can cause bloating.
As tempting as it might be to cut out suspect foods, this may not be your best course of action because…
- Eliminating foods runs counter to recovery
- Working out potential food allergies or sensitivities is tricky and time-consuming (although your eating disorder might like it as it).
*It is possible for food allergies and sensitivities to cause an eating disorder because of the elimination and restriction.
Constipation is probably the most obvious go-to reason why your belly is bloated which can lead to an overuse of laxatives However, it’s constipation is the end result of a compromised, ineffective and sluggish Gastrointestinal Tract and dehydration, that needs nourishing and hydrating, not more and more laxatives.
6. Eating Too Fast
Do you feel anxious and or guilty when eating? If so, it’s quite likely you are eating too quickly, which may have you ingest air at the same time: Air that sits in your stomach, resulting in bloating.
Chewing gum can also cause bloating because of the tendency to ingest air as you chew, as can breathing in through your mouth when exercising as well as using straws.
7. Not Getting Enough Sleep
When struggling with bulimia, it’s very common to have interrupted or too little sleep.
As you may have experienced, too little sleep is stressful; physically, mentally and emotionally, especially to a body and brain that are already distressed and depleted. This may disrupt digestion, causing bloating and can further interrupt sleep.