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Can bulimia nervosa be prevented?

No one knows any sure way to prevent bulimia nervosa. Adhering to some lifestyle guidelines may reduce the risk of a person developing the disorder, but so many factors may influence the development of the disorder, including genetics, that it's difficult to know what can prevent it. Nonetheless, a healthy attitude toward eating and self-perceptions about body size and share are important, as is maintaining good mental health. Education and awareness of eating disorders may help identify problems early and offer the best chance for appropriate treatment and recovery.

Ways to reduce the risk of bulimia nervosa

  • Education about and awareness of the disorder and associated risk factors
  • Early intervention if risk factors are identified
  • Knowledge and maintenance of healthy eating habits
  • Cultivation of a positive self-image of the body
  • Maintenance of good mental health
  • Counseling as needed to identify and resolve areas of conflict and stress
  • Balancing school, work, social life, rest, and exercise
  • Encouraging the at-risk person to develop close relationships with trusted friends, mentors (teachers/coaches), and family where possible


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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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