Can You Have Both Bulimia And Binge Eating Disorder?


Something that I’ve seen asked about before is whether you can have more than one eating disorder, specifically bulimia and binge eating disorder. And also whether you can have more than one eating disorder at the same time.

While the question was specifically about those 2 disorders, I think you can ask the question about pretty much any combination of eating disorders.

Getting Help With Eating Disorders

At this point, I’ll add my standard disclaimer, that if you have any questions, or concerns want advice about treatment, or want help with a diagnosis – speak to a qualified professional.

That is very much NOT what I am.

But maybe some of the information here is going to help you feel better informed when you go and get the support or help that you feel that you want, or that you need.

What Is Binge Eating Disorder?

So talking about binge-eating disorder, my default definition is the consumption of a large volume of food, in a short span of time, to the point of feeling uncomfortably full.

And it’s not always related to hunger. A lot of the time, hunger has nothing to do with it.

What Is Bulimia?

Bulimia or bulimia nervosa to give its full name.

There are some behaviour patterns that overlap with binge eating disorder, but there are some differences as well.

Bulimia is a little bit more cyclical in the sense that you may binge, but then you’re also more likely to have some behaviour to try and compensate for that binge.

In terms of compensating behaviour, the most common ones you see referred to are self-induced vomiting and excessive amounts of exercise.

What Are The Similarities Between Bulimia And Binge Eating Disorder?

In terms of similarities, both do involve a binge eating behaviour pattern.

So eating that large volume of food.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that both can cause severe mental and physical harm and you should seek out help for both.

What Is The Difference Between Bulimia And Binge Eating Disorder?

The main difference, as I already mentioned is that with bulimia you’re more likely to have some compensating behaviours after eating. With binge eating disorder that might not necessarily happen.

With binge eating disorder you may still try and do something to compensate for a binge.

But from my understanding, the clinical recognition is going to be down a little bit more to the extent of you’re compensating behaviours and frequency of it.

It’s also worth noting that if someone is trying to induce vomiting, that is going to come with its own set of health risks as well.

First of all, the body’s not going to be absorbing the nutrition that it needs so there’s going to be severe undernourishment – which can lead to a whole host of long-term health and wellbeing issues.

And also inducing vomiting regularly is going to make you more prone to tooth decay as well.

Is It Possible To Have Both Eating Disorders?

So to answer the original question, of whether it is possible to have both eating disorders, I would say yes.

As I said, I’m not a qualified professional. So it makes more sense to speak to someone who is more qualified about your specific questions.

But you can look at it from 2 separate angles.

Say someone has been prone to regular binges for a while, and then they one day or gradually over time, start to find that either by exercising a lot more or starting to make themselves feel sick, they’re actually starting to compensate for the food that they ate in their binge.

That might be a sort of transition from binge eating disorder to bulimia.

Similarly, someone with bulimia may stop doing the compensating behaviours at some point.

But they’re still prone to binge eating. In this case, they may find that they transfer, they may find the transition from bulimia to binge eating disorder.

Is It Possible To Have Bulimia And Binge Eating Disorder At The Same Time?

So is it possible to have both at the same time? I’m going to repeat what I said before about not being qualified to advise you on that.

I’m going to say based purely on my reading of the clinical definitions of both eating disorders, it’s unlikely that you’d get clinically diagnosed as having both at the same time.

Generally, bulimia is going to be defined as having compensating behaviour, whereas binge-eating disorder isn’t.

But from everything I’ve read and everything I’ve experienced my own struggle with eating disorders, it’s a spectrum. It’s not entirely black and white.

There are a lot of grey areas and there are a lot of blurred lines between them.

Someone may be prone to regular binges, but might not always try and compensate for them. That might be somewhere between the two.

Similarly, someone who may be prone to smaller binges, but actually there’s the extent that, you know, one or two really gruelling long exercise sessions can burn off those calories.

You might find that with some of your binges, you try and compensate to some extent, and with others, you don’t. And that might fall somewhere in that sort of grey area, for example.


Wrapping Up The Conversation On Bulimia And Binge Eating Disorder

Just to sum up what I said above.

  1. If you have any questions or concerns, please do speak to a qualified professional.
  2. There are some differences and some similarities between bulimia and binge eating disorder.
  3. It is possible to have both. You may not get diagnosed with having both at the same time, but it is possible to have both.
  4. Eating disorders don’t look the same on everyone.

We’re all unique, we’re all different, all have our own triggers and behaviours.