Why Purging Doesn't Work 🚫

Eating disorders are serious illnesses and there are serious health risks for all types of eating disorders. In this article, we’re going to bust some myths around purging and talk about the biggest health consequences that come with it.



Did you know, purging doesn't work?


Many people who purge dont realize that purging actually doesn't really help with weight loss, which is why people who purge tend to gain weight overtime. In fact, vomiting right after you eat might only eliminate up to 50% of the calories consumed, and usually much less. Similarly, by using laxatives, you may only eliminate up to 10% of the calories consumed. And diuretics, well, none at all.


The scale may show a lower number afterwards, but this is mostly just water weight, and not true weight loss. 💧



What happens when you purge?


Purging can come in a variety of forms, like exercising, vomiting, using laxatives, or diuretics (water pills) for weight loss. All forms of purging have serious health consequences. 😷


Every time you use purge by vomiting, using laxatives, or diuretics, you are also ridding your body of crucial electrolytes, like potassium, sodium and chloride. Electrolytes help regulate and balance the fluids in your body. You get electrolytes from what you eat and drink.



When you purge, your entire body is impacted. 🔄


Heart: ❤️ you may develop an irregular heartbeat from loss of electrolytes and have a sudden cardiac arrest.


Mouth: 👄 Dehydration is common since you are not retaining enough water. You may also develop tooth decay from frequent vomiting which exposes the enamel on your teeth to stomach acid. This damage is irreparable.


Throat: 🗣 Getting acid reflux from vomiting and an inflamed throat is common, painful, and makes it hard to eat regularly. There is a risk of esophageal and stomach tears- this is a medical emergency so it is vital to seek immediate medical help if you ever notice any blood in your vomit.


Digestion: 🦷 Irregular bowel movements are common, so is constipation., this can lead to problems later in life such as incontinence or prolapse due to lack of muscle tone.


Muscles:💪 Your hands, arms, feet, ankles and legs may be swollen from trapped excess fluid. You also might be weak and tired from electrolyte imbalances or over-exercising.


Organ damage and neuropathy: 🫁 from diabulimia (manipulating insulin for weight loss in Type 1 Diabetes).




Though these health problems are serious and it’s important to know of them, they are preventable and often reversible with the right help.






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Written By:

Lindsey Depledge

Lindsey is one of the founders of Beanbag Health with a personal passion for eating disorders. She's a behavioral scientist with a background in health-tech and ed-tech in the US. She has designed healthcare and education programs at scale, engaging millions of Americans and thousands of students globally, including many from traditionally underserved backgrounds.



Clinically Reviewed By:

Marianne Le Coyte Grinney

Marianne is a psychotherapist and lead within the UK's National Health Service, and she has been working in a setting with eating disorders for about 12 years now. She passionately believe that recovery is possible from any and all kinds of eating disorders and always holds hope that things can be different. Behind the scenes, she enjoys spending lots of time with her doodle dogs. She can't wait to meet you in the server!