How To Control The Urge To Purge

Most people with eating disorders know that purging isn’t healthy, but that doesn’t diminish the urge – which can feel overwhelmingly strong at times.

Your best bet to ending purging behavior is to seek professional help from someone trained in eating disorder treatment. If that’s not an option, however, these strategies and tactics might also help you stop or at least minimize how often you engage in the behavior:

Create a new routine

The time right after meals is when you’ll need to find a way to create a new habit, instead of purging. Start putting in place a routine, like going for a walk, cleaning, or writing in your journal. Anything that will distract you and help keep your mind off of purging can be helpful. Over time, these behaviors can become new habits and replace the old, destructive ones.

Avoid water with meals

According to, avoiding liquids with your meals can make you feel less full. Often times just the feeling of food in the stomach can trigger the urge to purge, and drinking fluids can exacerbate this feeling of fullness. Avoiding water or other beverages while you eat can reduce the volume in your stomach and potentially prevent purging episodes.

Don’t go near a bathroom

The visual trigger of being near a bathroom may trigger the desire to purge, too, so do what you can to stay away from restrooms about 30 minutes to an hour after meals.

Call for help

The NEDA Helpline is also a great place to start if you want to speak with someone live. Call 1-800-931-2237 and you’ll be connected with a person who can help you ride out the urge until it passes.

Source: NEDA

Eating Disorder Self Test. Take the EAT-26 self test to see if you might have eating disorder symptoms that might require professional evaluation. All answers are confidential.

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