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People With Bulimia - Why Don't They Get Satisfied When They Have Eaten Enough Food?

Sep 11, 2008
People with bulimia don't experience a proper sense of satisfaction when they eat. They can eat food then more food and the feelings of hunger or cravings can still be present: this then makes them eat more and more. When they go on a binge it seems there isn't enough food for them to stop and feel satisfied. Bulimics eat until they get so full they must purge it all up.

Why can normal people stop easily when they full and bulimics can't?

For people without bulimia the intake of food is perfectly regulated so that they will be satisfied when they have eaten enough. And at that point eating more does not feel desirable, they feel happy and content.

Satisfaction with food is a feeling that the brain creates from different signals from different parts of the body. For example, rising blood sugar levels during eating signals to the brain that the body is satisfied. When the stomach gets full it signals to the brain that it is time to stop eating. And of course, the knowledge about how much you have eaten can send a message to the brain that you have finished your meal time.

There are special enzymes like enterostatin that are produced when fat is digested in the intestines. Enterostatin sends impulses to the receptors saying "I am full". These impulses go to the reward centers in the brain which then tells the brain and body "I am satisfied and I don't want any more food".

So, for normal people the brain puts together all these factors to decide that they are full. For people with bulimia or other eating disorders these factors do not work anymore or work only partially. Some people do have feelings of satisfaction but ignore it (don't listen to their body).

The reasons why people with bulimia and other eating disorders lose their feelings of satisfaction are:

1. A person who has been dieting recently gets messages from the body saying: "Eat more, this is a famine. Eat when the food is available. You don't know when you will get food again." This makes them loose sense of satisfaction from eating.

2. A person who has vomited recently has similar signals from the body about the body is starving and needs food for nourishment.

3. The food a bulimic normally eats (like biscuits, chips, candy, sweets, white bread etc.) does not give proper satisfaction impulses. You have to eat food like root vegetables, meat, fish, porridge, eggs etc. to make your body satisfied with the eating.

4. When people eat rapidly (compulsively like people with bulimia) the satisfaction processes fail to work. The slower you eat, the longer you chew the greater satisfaction you get.

5. Anxiety can be a reason for losing sense of satisfaction. A person who is anxious and agitated eats to reduce these feelings because food reduces anxiety. Managing anxiety with different strategies (like meditation, relaxation etc.) will help to obtain proper satisfaction from eating.

6. Some bulimic people are not aware of their hunger and satisfaction feelings. They may just need to learn it again. Learn to differentiate hunger from anxiety, from fear or tiredness. They need to learn to name their feelings, acknowledge them and cope with them by other means (not with food).

To conclude, people with bulimia need to work on their subconscious first of all to return their sense of food satisfaction back to normal. Feelings of satisfaction are an important component for bulimia recovery. You can return you feelings of satisfaction back by removing subconscious blockages from your mind. This will then in turn, allow the proper feelings to return and normalize once again.
About the Author
Dr Irina Webster MD is the Director of Women Health Issues Program. She is a recognised athority in the eating disorders area. She is an author of many books and a public speaker. To learn more about bulimia treatment go to http://www.bulimia-cure.com
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