National Eating Disorders Association

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Why does binging and purging make me feel better?

I'm a triathlete and I want to recover because my bulimia makes me feel weak all the time and I'll never be a better in triathlon if I don't recover.

So my question is: Why do I feel better and less empty after I binged and purged? Is there even an explanation?


Hi Henni! It's really brave of you to take the first step in recognizing that you want to feel better. I think It's really common to use an eating disorder as a way to cope with other difficult things that may be going on in our lives, so in the moment of the behaviors we temporarily feel better, but afterwards we still have to deal with the feelings that caused the behaviors in the first place. I wouldn't beat yourself up over anything though, wanting to get better is a huge step forward in the right direction.

If you're looking for any resources, the NEDA Helpline can help connect you to what you're looking for, or you can go to the Find Treatment section of the website and look up some resources yourself:

Remember that you're not alone in your struggle, stay strong!

I think of it as an addictive "Healthy" habit

Just like all other addictions. There is a pattern of becoming acclimated to a habit for coping(whatever reason for?).

I feel we build up a tolerance and an addictive need for this addictive behavior. It sounds like your behavior has reached The Pleasure Ctr of your BRAIN. I'm wondering if you feel "Hooked" on this behavior, as you mentioned, "Binging and Purging."

It sounds like you need to unravel the knot in the yarn. Good places to start can be attending support groups, individual therapy, and seeing a doctor for an exam to get a referral if needed for your med insurance plan.

Journaling is also very helpful before a binge or purge to find an emotional pattern yourself so you may also have this tool to bring w/ you to therapy, as necessary....

Then in therapy perhaps you may discover other alternatives to this behavioral pattern which you now seem very aware of. Good luck in your endurance training sport of choice, and keep coming back for NEDA support too.

P.S,--- i swam @ the competitive level from age 8 and up to college. So i do understand about sports and ED's too.

I also know it can be difficult when one stops exercising cold turkey, esp if they binge eat too.

It may cause anxiety and a tad of weight gain in the beginning but we all must take a chance to recover as it will only get worse.......
like a bad cavity that's ignored until its too late...

Giving in

From my I have learned in my research, the reason you feel "good" is because you finally give in to the urge to binge and purge. Resisting requires a lot of mental energy. So the action of purging and bingeing is not what is bringing you relief, but the fact that you're not fighting the urge anymore.

Chemical explaination


From what I know a reason to why you feel good when giving in is often a chemical reaction. The food we often binge on are fatty, easy carbohydrates. When you give in to that binge and include these kinds of food, an opiod-like substance is released. It makes you feel relaxed and tired, however it will pass. It's like getting a fix from a drug.
Don't be scared to eat that kind of food though! It's, as always, about moderation. A book with an interesting point of view that explains the brains chemistry is called "Brain over binge" by Kathryn Hansen. I liked it since it offered me an alternative way to look at bingeing and bulimia. Good luck, it is possible!!

Hi Malinnea, I edited your

Hi Malinnea, I edited your post to remove the last sentence since we prefer not to mention anything that may be triggering to others. Please see our community guidelines. Thanks!

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