When doctors suspect bulimia, they typically perform a battery of physical tests to assess complications of bulimia.

Among the criteria for a diagnosis of bulimia in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM-IV) are:

  • Repeated episodes of binge eating, including eating an abnormally large amount of food and feeling a lack of control over your eating.
  • These behaviors occur at least twice a week for at least three months.
  • Self esteem is overly influenced by body shape and weight.
  • The eating disorder behavior doesn't occur during periods of anorexia.

Some people may not meet all of these criteria but still have an eating disorder. As researchers learn more about eating disorders, the diagnostic criteria may evolve and change.