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Cognitive behavioral therapy

(CBT) — A treatment that involves three overlapping phases when used to treat an eating disorder. For example, with bulimia, the first phase focuses on helping people to resist the urge to binge eat and purge by educating them about the dangers of their behavior. The second phase introduces procedures to reduce dietary restraint and increase the regularity of eating. The last phase involves teaching people relapse-prevention strategies to help them prepare for possible setbacks. A course of individual CBT for bulimia nervosa usually involves 16- to 20-hour-long sessions over a period of 4 to 5 months. It is offered on an individual, group, or self-managed basis. The goals of CBT are designed to interrupt the proposed bulimic cycle that is perpetuated by low self-esteem, extreme concerns about shape and weight, and extreme means of weight control.

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Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder in which a person engages in binge eating (eating a lot of food in a short time) followed by some type of behavior to prevent weight gain from the food that was eaten. This behavior can take two forms: self-induced vomiting, misuse of enemas, laxatives, diet pills (called purging) and excessive exercise, fasting, or diabetic omission of insulin (called non-purging). Some people with bulimia nervosa may also starve themselves for periods of time before binge eating again. Bulimia nervosa has important mental, emotional, and physical aspects that require consideration during treatment.

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