Text Link

Learn more about the results we get at Within

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Learn more about the results we get at Within

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

How to stop bulimia

No items found.
No items found.

Bulimia nervosa is a complex eating disorder that often comes with feelings of shame and guilt, so individuals often avoid seeking help. Eating disorders won’t go away on their own. But a full recovery from bulimia is possible when effective treatment is provided. In fact, almost 75% of people with bulimia who seek treatment fully recover. (1)

 minutes read
Last updated on 
March 27, 2023
In this article

The biopsychosocial approach

The biopsychosocial approach addresses the whole person, instead of focusing only on disordered eating behaviors. Treatment with the biopsychosocial model provides a person with a support system of therapists, medical staff, and loved ones to help tackle the underlying causes of bulimia, as well as the symptoms.

The biopsychosocial model 

 This model explores all biological, psychological, and social factors to understand a person’s medical condition: (2)

  • Biological: Parts, functions, or aspects of the body, such as genetic predisposition.
  • Psychological: Thoughts, emotions, and behavior, such as coping methods and emotional regulation.
  • Social: Cultural, socio-economical, and socio-environmental factors, such as bullying, beauty standards, and family circumstances.

The biopsychosocial model is the most promising for treating bulimia, as this eating disorder primarily affects young people with predispositions to being of higher weight and depression, who are vulnerable to the social pressure for thinness. (3)

How to stop bulimia

First things first, people can’t simply stop having bulimia, or any eating disorder for that matter. Bulimia is not a choice. It has nothing to do with willpower. It’s a serious illness that can impact every part of a person’s life and requires treatment. 

Find treatment that works for you

When you reach out for help, your treatment team will perform a comprehensive evaluation and determine what therapies and interventions are likely to work best for you. 

If you need more support and structure during your recovery, you may benefit from residential or intensive outpatient treatment, where you will receive a variety of therapies, including:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT can help you overcome the triggers of your bulimia, as well as improve body dissatisfaction, a drive for thinness, disordered eating behaviors, and anxiety. (4)
  • Group therapy: The support of group therapy can help you feel less isolated in your recovery from bulimia. Forming social connections with those in a similar situation can be incredibly healing.
  • Family therapy: This form of therapy teaches your family and loved ones about bulimia and how they can best support you during recovery. Family therapy also offers a safe space for you to address unresolved conflicts at home without any judgment.

How to stop the cycle

It’s easy to feel trapped in the binge-purge cycle of bulimia, fearing that you will never be able to break free from it. However, there are things you can do to stop the cycle. While these ideas don’t replace the advice and care from your treatment team, they can help you to build positive coping skills to complement your recovery. (5)

Try to avoid triggers

Talk therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), can help you identify what triggers, or prompts, your binge-purge episodes. For example, some people are triggered by images on social media. If so, they may benefit from deactivating their social media accounts.

Emotions, like boredom, stress, and sadness, can also trigger the urge to binge or purge. Although you can’t always control your emotions, you can learn to accept them and cope with them without binging or purging.

Use distractions

After meals or exposure to one of your triggers, intrusive thoughts, and urges about binging and purging can sneak into your mind. Distraction techniques can help you to redirect your thoughts to something more positive until the urge to binge has passed.

Distractions can take many forms, and you may need to try a number of techniques to see what works for you. It may be calling a family member, going for a walk, reading, playing a game, or watching your favorite show.

Learn from the past

While they can be distressing, relapses do happen during recovery. But they aren’t necessarily a bad thing, as you can learn from them. Don’t pretend these relapses didn’t happen. Instead, analyze what happened and see what you could do next time something similar occurs.

As you learn more about your triggers during treatment and what coping strategies work best for you, you’ll get better at stopping yourself from acting on your urges. So be kind to yourself. Recovery is a journey, and there will be ups and downs. But your treatment team will be there to support you if you ask for help.

You might be interested in

Develop a support system

Don’t be afraid to ask your loved ones for support, too. They can be incredibly valuable in helping you to avoid binging and purging. Tell your loved ones you value them as a “support person.” Then, when you’re struggling with urges, go to them. 

You don’t have to talk about what you’re feeling. You could go for a walk, play a game, or eat with them to distract you from your post-meal urges. 

Plan ahead

Lots of people in eating disorder recovery find planning to be a helpful exercise. Planning meals and grocery lists ahead of time can reduce the stress of a food shop and prevent you from gravitating towards binge foods.

A registered dietician will be able to help you with meal plans, ensuring your diet includes all the nutrients you need to nourish yourself and feel good. (6) Furthermore, a nutrition counselor can also help you heal your relationship with food by teaching you about the nutritional value of food.

Take care of yourself

Although we know people with bulimia often feel ashamed of their actions and don’t like themselves too much, Learning how to take care of yourself is an important skill to learn in recovery. 

Self-care can include meeting with a friend to go for a walk or watch a movie, reading a good book, meditating, journaling, getting enough sleep, seeing a therapist regularly, and doing physical activities or moving your body in ways that feel good to you. 

Finally, make time to reintroduce the things you used to enjoy before your eating disorder became such a preoccupation in your life.

Final thoughts

The key to stopping bulimia is intervening as early as possible, but it’s never too late to get help for an eating disorder. Research the best type of treatment for your specific needs, and make sure the program includes medical as well as psychological support to address any underlying causes of the disorder. At Within Health, we offer a multidisciplinary approach that includes nurses, dietitians, and therapists, attuned to your specific needs. Call our admissions team today to learn more about the first steps.

Disclaimer about "overeating": Within Health hesitatingly uses the word "overeating" because it is the term currently associated with this condition in society, however, we believe it inherently overlooks the various psychological aspects of this condition which are often interconnected with internalized diet culture, and a restrictive mindset about food. For the remainder of this piece, we will therefore be putting "overeating" in quotations to recognize that the diagnosis itself pathologizes behavior that is potentially hardwired and adaptive to a restrictive mindset.

Disclaimer about weight loss drugs: Within does not endorse the use of any weight loss drug or behavior and seeks to provide education on the insidious nature of diet culture. We understand the complex nature of disordered eating and eating disorders and strongly encourage anyone engaging in these behaviors to reach out for help as soon as possible. No statement should be taken as healthcare advice. All healthcare decisions should be made with your individual healthcare provider.


  1. Hudson, J. I., Hiripi, E., Pope, H. G., & Kessler, R. C. (2007). The Prevalence and Correlates of Eating Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Biological Psychiatry, 61(3), 348–358.
  2. Biopsychosocial Model. Physiopedia. (n.d.). 
  3. Kirkley B. G. (1986). Bulimia: clinical characteristics, development, and etiology. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 86(4), 468–475.
  4. Ariail A, Carpenter E, Smith T, Sacco B. (2018) Effective Treatment of Pediatric Eating Disorders. Pediatr Ann. 47(6): e250-e253. 
  5. Susan Cowden, M. S. (2020, July 16). 6 steps to stopping a cycle of binging and purging. Verywell Mind.
  6. Avargues-Navarro ML, Borda-Mas M, Asuero-Fernández R, et al. Purging behaviors and therapeutic prognosis of women with eating disorders treated in a healthcare context. Int J Clin Health Psychol. 2017;17(2):120-127.


Further reading

Dangers of bulimia nervosa on your health and well-being

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by extremes. People struggling with this condition move...

Bulimia treatment at home

Bulimia nervosa (BN) is an eating disorder characterized by cycles of binge eating and purging, with these...

Bulimia self-help recovery

Like other eating disorders, bulimia nervosa (BN) has the power to significantly affect a person’s life and...

What are the long-term effects of bulimia?

If you or a loved one has experienced bulimia nervosa (BN), it is important to be aware of the long-term...

What are the stages in bulimia recovery?

If you've decided the time is right to enter treatment for your eating disorder, you're probably wondering...

Antidepressants and bulimia nervosa

Bulimia nervosa (BN) is a debilitating and dangerous eating disorder that can lead to numerous health...

The relationship between orthorexia and bulimia

Orthorexia nervosa (ON) is a more recently acknowledged disorder. While yet to be recognized by the DSM...

Bulimia nervosa in men

Bulimia nervosa (BN) may be one of the most widely-recognized eating disorders in the United States...

Tips for recovering from bulimia nervosa at home

Although experiencing bulimia nervosa (BN), a serious eating disorder, can be challenging and scary, many...

Psychological causes of bulimia nervosa

Bulimia nervosa (BN) is a psychiatric disorder that involves recurrent episodes...

How to safely manage weight in bulimia recovery

When in bulimia recovery, or after recovering from another eating disorder...

Bulimia during pregnancy: What to expect

Pregnancy can be momentous and miraculous, but can bulimia affect...

What is non-purging bulimia?

Bulimia nervosa (BN) is a serious eating disorder defined by cycles. People who struggle with this...

What causes bulimia nervosa?

Bulimia nervosa (BN) is a serious eating disorder that revolves around cycles of binge eating and purging...

Understanding bulimia in men

Eating disorders like bulimia nervosa (BN) are almost exclusively attributed to girls and women, but a...

Bulimia treatment therapy plans with proven results

Bulimia nervosa (BN) is a dangerous and potentially deadly disorder, affecting someone’s mental, physical...

Signs and symptoms of bulimia nervosa

Bulimia nervosa (BN) is a serious mental health disorder, but the condition is often marked by a number of...

Setting bulimia nervosa treatment goals

As any healing process commences, it is important to have goals in mind as they can...

How to eat normally after bulimia with a recovery meal plan

When entering treatment for bulimia nervosa (BN), individuals typically present...

How to tell your loved ones you have bulimia

Telling your loved ones or family members that you struggle with bulimia nervosa (BN) can be a terrifying...

How to talk about bulimia nervosa

When you’re living with an eating disorder, like bulimia nervosa (BN), you can get...

How to stop bulimia

Bulimia nervosa is a complex eating disorder that often comes with feelings of...

How to help someone with bulimia

It can be incredibly difficult when someone you love is struggling with bulimia nervosa (BN). You may feel...

Examining the bulimia death rate

Eating disorders are among the most dangerous—and deadly—diagnoses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual...

Do I have bulimia?

If you’ve been struggling with your eating habits lately—especially if you’ve found yourself binging or...

Can bulimia kill you?

Bulimia nervosa (BN) is a serious eating disorder that affects up to 4.6% of women and...

What is bulimia nervosa (BN)?

Bulimia nervosa (BN) is an eating disorder that affects between 0.5% and 1.5% of...

Further reading

No items found.