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Eating disorders Bulimia

Girls suffering with bulimia need professional help.

Bopha's throat was hurting. She couldn't concentrate. She could barely get out of bed. But on her own, she couldn't stop eating and making herself throw up.

A friend invited Bopha to join an organization for young women. There, an advisor listened without criticizing and encouraged Bopha to see a counselor.

It took time and effort, but Bopha now feels strong. She eats three meals a day and exercises in moderation. "I jog two times a week," she says. "I don't over exercise or anything. I jog because I want to feel healthy." And she has learned new ways to deal with her emotions.

"When I'm feeling fat," Bopha says, "I need to talk. So I call someone. Or read a book, or write in my journal about why I'm feeling sad and what I did to make myself feel better."

Bopha encourages parents to support their children with positive feedback. "All I wanted was to impress my father," she says.

"Parents have to be very clear," says Dr. Olivardia. "Many assume their children know they are loved. But children need to hear it. And when parents make a comment, it's important to frame it in a concern about the child's health: 'We love you very much. We want you to be healthy.'"

Bopha has learned that the way she looks isn't the most important thing about her. "It's not my appearance that counts the most," she says. "It's what I know, who I am, and what I can contribute to people. When I know that I can make a difference, I feel really good."

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