10 Ways to Stop Vomiting After Meals

Coach Jen's picture

A vacant door due to stopped vomiting


Update: We've created a new, indepth, step by step Guide to Stopping Purging you can view here. I hope you find it helpful!


Vomiting after eating is the most common form of purging for people with bulimia. However, there are also other forms of purging such as abusing laxatives, over-exercising, diet pills, diuretics and fasting for periods of time.

Some people use only one means of getting rid of food while others use a combination of methods. The ultimate goal of these methods is to rid the body of calories consumed and prevent weight gain.

Unfortunately, these habits are neither effective nor healthy and can wreak havoc on your body, causing long-term complications or even death. The habit of purging is a very strong one. In order to stop, you will probably need some help. Most people can’t recover alone. I know that my own recovery never would have happened without the right support. If you are currently suffering from bulimia and need to stop purging, here are some tips to help you get started.

1. Understand that purging doesn’t help maintain a lower weight.

People who vomit after meals are making an attempt to reverse the calories consumed and avoid weight gain, or even lose weight. The result is exactly the opposite. Research shows that people who binged then vomited still retained 1,000 to 1,200 calories after throwing up.

Even if you feel ‘empty’ after vomiting, you are probably dehydrated, which can lead to more binge urges and salt cravings.

Also, as your body responds to the food you have eaten, it releases insulin. When you throw up the contents of your stomach, there is now too much insulin in your body. This leads to more sugar cravings!

If you abuse laxatives to get rid of calories, then you need to understand how ineffective that is. Absorption occurs high in the digestive system. Laxatives empty the lower section. Any weight loss you may feel is only due to dehydration. The same goes for diuretics, which actually worsen water retention in the long-run.

Over-exercise is another method used to reduce the calories of a binge. Excessive exercise actually increases the appetite, which increases the likelihood of a binge. There are also many risks involved, such as muscle injuries and vitamin deficiencies.

Diet pills and fasting are also used, but again are ineffective. Diet pills put you at risk for heart problems as they often contain high levels of caffeine. Fasting only leads to more binging.

These methods of purging are not only ineffective, but are dangerous. Once your body has gone into starvation mode, it holds onto calories more effectively than ever. The same goes for dehydration. When you are chronically dehydrated, your body retains water which leads to bloating- the opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve!

2. Talk to someone.

Because so many people suffer in silence, researchers do not have an accurate percentage of who successfully recovers alone. I can tell you from experience that it is nearly impossible, and was certainly impossible for me to recover by myself!

Finding support is a great first step to changing your habits once and for all. Not only can a ‘support buddy’ provide accountability, but they can be there for you during your crucial moments. The Bulimia Help Community is full of people who can offer support.

If you need additional guidance, check out the Bulimia Help Coaching Program. Here you can find experienced coaches who have actually recovered from bulimia and can provide insight and support.

Regardless of who you confide in, be sure you aren’t trying to stop purging alone. The isolation of bulimia can increase feelings of loneliness and frustration. It doesn’t take weakness to ask for help, it takes true strength!

3. Adopt a structured eating plan.

Chaotic eating can lead directly to binging and purging. Structured eating helps to rebalance the body and provide a consistent amount of food. This helps to reduce and end purging because it weakens binge urges. With smaller, weaker binges the desire to get rid of the food also decreases, making it easier to resist.

4. Stick to your ‘safe’ foods at first.

Most people with eating disorders have food lists. These lists can include ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’ foods. When unsafe foods are eaten, the desire to throw up after eating may arise for fear of gaining weight. By sticking to foods you are comfortable eating when you begin structured eating, you may not feel the need to get rid of the calories.

When foods that are considered to be fattening are eaten, the desire to make yourself sick, abuse laxatives or get rid of it in some way may be overwhelming and nearly impossible to resist.

As structured eating progresses and you become more comfortable having food in your body, you can gradually introduce things that have been off limits in the past. It is important you get used to feeling food in your stomach. Once you are accustomed to eating regularly from your ‘safe’ list, take it slowly by adding new types of meals and snacks as you are comfortable.

5. Practice a delay.

A very effective habit-changing practice is to delay purging until you can resist it entirely. The first time you practice this, try to delay the purge by just five minutes. Once you are successful with that, increase your time to ten minutes, then twenty, then thirty. Increase your delay time until you can completely resist. Don’t worry if you aren’t able to do this at first, it takes lots of time and practice.

Helpful Hint: While practicing a delay, be sure and distract yourself in some way so that you aren’t just watching the clock!


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6. Keep a recovery journal.

Journaling is very helpful for many reasons. It gives you a sacred place to write your inner most thoughts and feelings about food, anxiety, stress or whatever triggers you.It also gives you a place to keep positive recovery thoughts and motivation such as moments of success and inspirational quotes for when you most need them. And possibly the most beneficial part of a recovery journal is the insight it gives.

You have the chance to review your thoughts and feelings once you have calmed down or are in a better mood. That is when you can rationalize and decide what was really triggering and how you can best handle it in the future. Tracking progress as well as relapses can show you exactly where your strengths and weaknesses are.

7. Analyze your pattern.

Review your recovery journal often. Even if you only write in bullet points or a few sentences at the end of the day, look over it again. Try to decide what is helping and what isn’t.

Your journal gives you the chance to decode your binge and purge cycles and see where things are most challenging. Review the successes as much as the failures. Examine what helped you succeed and focus on how to keep going!

8. Celebrate every bit of success.

During recovery it can be easy to focus on failure instead of success. Try shifting your focus and celebrating each accomplishment, no matter how big or small.

So you successfully postponed purging for five minutes? Great job!

Don’t focus on the fact that you still purged, focus on the positive changes you are making! You didn’t develop this habit overnight, and it won’t go away that quickly either.

Be patient and maintain a positive outlook as you go. It will be much more helpful than beating yourself up. You can keep a list of accomplishments in your recovery journal. This way you can review them if you are feeling down.

Remember, the journey of recovery is long and consists of many small steps. Celebrate each accomplishment as you go!

9. Take it one day at a time.

Some people keep track of how many days they can go without a relapse. Others do not. Regardless of whether you count the days, keep things simple. Focus only on today. Don’t dwell on yesterday. Release the anxiety about tomorrow. Recovery happens in the moment, which is where your attention should be.

For my personal recovery, I counted days. Looking back I think it did more harm than good. My advice to others is not to keep track. If you do, try to do like I did and just exclude relapses from your list.

For example if I relapsed on day 50, I would start over the next day as day 50 instead of going back to day 1. This keeps you from being so down on yourself.

10. Understand the risks.

The more knowledge you have about the effects, the more empowered you are in order to change your mindset and your habits. If you ignore the possible consequences like I did for many years, it can be very shocking to do the research.

The more you know, the better informed your decision to stop will be. Although your recovery should not be fear-based, you may find more motivation in knowing what the dangers are. According to the US National Library of Medicine, the following can result from purging:

  • Hair loss and brittle fingernails.
  • Cavities or gum infections
  • Broken blood vessels in the eyes.
  • Irritated or infected sinuses.
  • Skin rashes and acne.
  • Swollen or infected glands.
  • Overall swollen appearance of the face, particularly the cheeks.
  • Irritation or damage to the lining of the stomach and esophagus.
  • Hypokalemia (low potassium) which can result in abnormal heart rhythms, fatigue, constipation and muscular damage
  • Amenorrhea (irregular periods)
  • Edema (swelling) of the body due to water retention and dehydration
  • Russell’s Sign- visible scars and calluses on the hands

If you have experienced any of these, you should see a doctor for a full check-up. The earlier you start recovery, the fewer long-term affects you may experience. It’s never too late to make positive changes for your emotional and physical health.

As someone who has made a full recovery from bulimia, I know the challenges you face in accepting food without trying to get rid of the calories.

I hope you find these 10 tips to be practical and helpful. I once believed that vomiting and diet pills helped maintain a low weight, but I was wrong.

I now live a life free from bulimia, and you can too!

Don’t wait any longer to stop binging and purging once and for all! The journey of recovery can start today.

You deserve to be happy and healthy.


Update: We've created a new, indepth, step by step Guide to Stopping Purging you can view here. I hope you find it helpful!


Jen Kneabel is a Recovery Coach at bulimiahelp.org. She has a Master’s Degree in Social Work and is experienced in using a variety of therapeutic interventions.

She relies on the Bulimia Help Method as the most effective way to help others make a permanent recovery.
Enquire about working with Jen to recover from bulimia

 

24 comments

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi i havnt told anyone about

Hi i havnt told anyone about what i do...i purge and i use laxatives i have done for about a year...an what i js read makes sense i am very consious of my weight an weigh myself every day...i have noticed sum days i feel puffy. I dont no where to start to gwt help

Thank u

Melissa x

Coach Jen
Coach Jen's picture
 I'm sorry that you are

 I'm sorry that you are struggling with vomiting and laxatives. You say you're looking for a place to start in seeking help, so you've come to the right place! Bulimia Help is a wonderful community full of supportive people who can relate to your struggles.

If you aren't already a member, I highly encourage you to sign up. You can get a free profile on the community site, purchase the Bulimia Help Method or sign up for coaching. Any of these options will be a great place to start!

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Structured eating key to

Structured eating key to beginning for me meal planning in advance even times etc until feeling a little easier

runner_mom
runner_mom's picture
Thanks for this article:) I

Thanks for this article:) I am so grateful that this site exists and appreciate hearing from the coaches:) Robin

runner_mom

Coach Jen
Coach Jen's picture
Thanks for reading and

Thanks for reading and commenting! We always love to hear feedback from our members

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Can metabolism get back to

Can metabolism get back to normal and how long it takes if so
Second question is can bulimia recovery be taken by steps

Coach Jen
Coach Jen's picture
Yes, your metabolism will go

Yes, your metabolism will go back to normal! The time it takes depends on several factors such as your natural metabolic rate, the regularity of your eating and your activity level (not sedentary but not overexercising).

To answer your second question: yes, bulimia recovery can and should be taken in steps. The Bulimia Help Method has it broken down into very simple steps, and the coaching program breaks it down even more with specific goals tailored to your exact needs. Taking it in steps is the only way to go. Trying to stop based on willpower simply won't work. The great news is that taking it step by step does work!

Rose16841
Rose16841's picture
thanks for this :) I had a

thanks for this :) I had a relapse this week and reading through this has given me some extra tips on how to move forward with recovery :)

for anyone reading this I cant explain just how helpful writing a journal is!!

Coach Jen
Coach Jen's picture
I'm so glad you found it to

I'm so glad you found it to be helpful! Yes, I completely agree that a recovery journal is a huge benefit and a valuable tool for those in recovery. 

Great job in looking forward after your relapse. I know that can be very difficult to do. I wish you all the success :-)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
God gives us wake up calls

God gives us wake up calls when we don't put Him first. I think they can be subtle at first. My trachea flap has caused a lot of coughing....about every 3 hours. I take an inhaler. I pray that this will return to normal or not worsen. I am not fully recovered, but it is better. I'd like to say I have fully recovered. I have not kept my eyes on Jesus and that is key.

Coach Jen
Coach Jen's picture
Wake-up calls do certainly

Wake-up calls do certainly come in all forms. I'm sorry you are experiencing problems with coughing. Keep working toward a full recovery, you can do it!

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
I have been bulimic for

I have been bulimic for almost 8years now. I have tried to stop but I keep on failing. The longest I can go without b/p is two days. Please help. Structured eating terrifies me.

Coach Jen
Coach Jen's picture
Hi there. I'm sorry you are

Hi there. I'm sorry you are struggling right now. Have you looked into our coaching program? Coaching.bulimiahelp.org is where you can find the information you need.  I know it seems impossible at first, and I didn't like structured eating either, but it really worked for me and I believe it can work for you! Hang in there, recovery is no easy process.

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi. I just joined the

Hi. I just joined the group!!! I needed a place whr I Cld talk to someone abt my
Bulimia ... Tonight was the worst night... I was having a binge
And wanted to purge so badly but it just wldnt
Happen... We all now some foods r easier to come up than others.. As I
Am sitting in the bathroom wanted to purge and having the WORST pains
In my stomach b/c my belly is so extended from eating to much... I truly did not
Want to throw up!!!! I hate feeling and I hate how
I feel afterwards !!!! I'm so puffy imams bloated in the
Next morning!!!! But all I could think abt is how
The scale is going to go up In weight.. Which freeks me out..
I have to maintain my weight..
Any way ... I am rambling on... The outcome, I did not
Purge it took all my might !!!!! I feel gross and hopefully
The scale will not move!!!!
Wht shld my next move b now
Thx for listening
Alyson(ssemom)

Coach Jen
Coach Jen's picture
Hi Alyson! Way to go not

Hi Alyson!

Way to go not purging! I know how extremely difficult that is! You asked what your next move should be- do it again! Keep resisting your purging habit and the binges will keep getting smaller and smaller. That is a very big accomplishment and I hope you celebrate achieving that goal! I know how awful it feels but things do get better. Resisting those binge and purge urges is such a difficult step. Keep with structured eating and you will see some great changes in the future!

Thanks for commenting, and great job not purging!

 

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
I have been struggling with

I have been struggling with bulimia for 2 years now. I constantly binge a purge and have lost enormous amount of weight. I have low potassium, it went as low as 2.1. I have been followed but nothing helps!! I feel like there is no hope for me :(
Nadia xx

Coach Jen
Coach Jen's picture
Hi Nadia, First, I want you

Hi Nadia,

First, I want you to know that nobody is hopeless!

I know how it feels to be hopeless, but please try to change your mind. With the right support and the proper tools, you can make a full recovery. Please keep an eye on the low potassium as I'm sure you know the health problems it can cause. 

I also experienced low potassium, and many people with bulimia do at some point. The sooner you can stick with structured eating and reduce those binge urges, the more quickly you can move toward recovery. 

Please take care and remember that nobody is hopeless!

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
I have been struggling for 16

I have been struggling for 16 years now. I want help so bad, thank you for the emails. I do feel like it's impossible to recover alone, thanks for the support.

Ali

Coach Jen
Coach Jen's picture
Hi Ali! I'm so glad the

Hi Ali!

I'm so glad the emails are helpful! We do have some coaching spots available if you are interested. Please be sure you are getting the support you need to recover. 16 years is a long time to suffer. You deserve to make recovery a priority and finally put bulimia in the past!

I wish you all the best in recovery. xoxo

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi Jen I am leaving secondary

Hi Jen

I am leaving secondary on Friday this week, after being in for a month. I have been very positive and motivated, but do have the fear for the real world again, all the stress, with survival in this world at the moment. I am also scared when I leave my dad ends up taking my life away, buy just making me a sickling, I am also nervous about a congruent happing between my dad, councillor and myself.

any advise
Many thanks
Bon

Coach Jen
Coach Jen's picture
Hi Bon, I'm so glad to hear

Hi Bon,

I'm so glad to hear that you have been feeling positive lately in recovery!

Don't let a fear of the future hinder your progress. The best way to handle anxiety about an upcoming change is to prepare for it. So ask yourself, 'What might go wrong?' Come up with your problems ahead of time so that you aren't blindsided. Then ask yourself, 'How will I handle this and keep my recovery progressing?' Come up with several options to help get you through. Without knowing more about your situation I can't tell you how to handle it, but I can tell you to be prepared for the challenges you will face. Be ready to keep your recovery the #1 priority, and have a backup plan for if things don't go as planned. Stick with structured eating and be sure to use your recovery journal.

Good luck with these changes, and stay focused on recovery no matter what! 

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
I have tried everything in 30

I have tried everything in 30 years struggling between anorexia first and bulimia after. Nothing worked leaving me in the most desperate loliness and frustration. I joined bulimia help method 28 days ago. Since I am another person I am focusing on stopping the urge to binge and I am following steps and advice reccommended. Please please every suffer should join i am doing so well I am so happy I am full of hope. Not even 5 months in a clinic helped me. All my gratitude to ali, richard and jen. I am in uk but my wish now is to save money and come to meet you in person. I am scared in case this is only a dream but I try not to think about future and i am enjoing and greatful for each day of happiness i am living with my 3 lovely kids. I have never been so happy and so in peace with myself . For ever gratefulxxxxx

Coach Jen
Coach Jen's picture
Congratulations on turning

Congratulations on turning things around for the better!

It truly is amazing how much progress you can make with the right support. It just shows that you have everything you need to recover right within yourself. You just needed the proper knowledge and support to make it happen!

Thank you for sharing the wonderful progress you are making. If you want to save up and come for a vist, that would be fantastic :-) Congratulations on the great progress you've made!

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
I've been bulimic for 11+

I've been bulimic for 11+ years. Reading these comments has made me burst into tears. It's not that I ever thought that I was alone with my issues, but I never really thought it was a problem. I was in the "bulimia is a life decision, not a disease" camp. This has all changed 6 months ago when I've started gaining weight instead of maintaining. I haven't been to the dentist in 2 years because I'm terrified to go. Even going to the doctor freaks me out because I am terrified of the scale. I've been suffering from some major health issues such as acid reflux, puffiness, migraines, dry mouth, blood (won't go into detail on that one) and I know it's all from prolonged bulimia. My parents found out about "issues" when I was in HS and put me on anti-depressants immediately. They haven't helped. In fact, I've been trying to get off of them for years but suffer extreme withdrawal when I try. It made me so hopeful to find this website. Today I am beginning my (lifelong) recovery.

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