Bulimia Food Addiction: What Part of the Brain is Responsible and How to Fix It?

Bulimia (bulimia nervosa) is an addictive eating disorder which begins with physical cravings then evolves into a mental obsession and finally turns into a spiritual illness. It usually comes from an unresolved trauma (emotional, psychological or even physical) earlier in life.


The question is what is the mechanism of developing a bulimic food addiction? What happens in a bulimic brain when she/he develops bulimia?


Here is the short and simple explanation. Our brain consists of two halves (called hemispheres). Both hemispheres are covered by a thick layer called the cortex. The cortex is the conscious part of the brain, the part we think with (just logic thinking). But this part of the brain is not responsible for our feelings.


We have another small part of our brain, which lies between the two hemispheres and connects them. This little part is called the limbic system. The limbic system as discussed in the next section, is involved in regulating emotions and motivations. In addition, parts of the limbic system, the amygdala and hippocampus, are important for memory.

The limbic system does not have a conscious thoughts it has only feelings. In other words, the limbic system is what we call our subconscious or subconscious mind.


It has been found that people with emotional problems have an imbalance of the limbic system or subconscious. This includes problems like anxiety, depression, eating disorders, alcoholism and other addictions.


In the period of acute stress, we also have an imbalance in the limbic system (or subconscious) – that is why stress affects us, not only emotionally, but mentally and physically as well.

After stress, some people recover quickly – and we call them “strong people.” What “strong” actually means is that they know how to affect their limbic system (subconscious) and put it in balance.

The question is: how to influence the limbic system and put it in the right balance?

The answer is: the cortex, which is the conscious part of the brain and through this we have influence over the limbic system the non-conscious part. The cortex, which makes decisions for us, learns new things, and understands things for us, should influence the non-conscious part of the brain by giving signals to the limbic system to work differently.


Most eating disorders are a learned behavior. Initially you taught yourself to diet, or to become slim. Initially it was your own conscious decision to lose weight because you wanted to look better. This conscious decision was made by your cortex and sent to your limbic system, which then gave you feelings (like feeling good about yourself when you become slim).

So, what you need to do is reverse this faulty teaching; you (or your cortex) should make another decision (about changing your own image and feelings that you have now, like starving yourself or purging, back to a normal response) and send a signal to your limbic system to foster good feelings about yourself and make new decision about your life.

How do you do this? There are lots of examples how this works. There are special new programs that can automatically affect the limbic system of your brain (the part of the brain where the eating disorder lives). These programs can identify and eliminate your subconscious blockages that created your eating disorder in the first place.


To conclude, bulimia food addiction develops as a result of subconscious processes due to unresolved trauma or strong dissatisfaction with one's body image. The limbic system is responsible for developing the problem but the conscious part of the brain (cortex) can affect it and reverse the abnormal mental process. To learn more how to do this read  http://www.bulimia-cure.com




Dr Irina Webster MD is the Director of Women Health Issues Program which covers different areas of Women Health. She is a recognised athority in the eating disorders area. She is an author of many books and a public speaker. http://www.bulimia-cure.com

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