I have a roommate that gets sick a lot and our bathroom smells of throw-up.

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I have a roommate that gets sick a lot. The bathroom smells of throw-up. How can she be sick that often?

Persons with bulimia commonly use the phrase “I got sick” to describe vomiting after a binge episode. Vomiting for the person with bulimia is a means of ridding themselves of the guilt they feel by eating “forbidden foods”. Vomiting for your friend is her means of controlling her weight.

Frequent and regular vomiting does not cause weight loss. Your body learns to adjust and starts digesting food higher in the gastrointestinal tract because it learns that it can’t hold onto the food very long. Also, food stays in the stomach longer because of the frequent vomiting. Patients with bulimia have told me of vomiting food they ate almost 24 hours before.

It is not normal for persons to throw up on a regular basis, even as infrequently as once a week. The next time your roommate says she “got sick”, tell her you think she vomits a lot and it is unhealthy. Ask her if she wants to talk. Express to her your concern and offer to help her seek professional help. Most communities offer psychological counseling and support groups for persons with eating disorders.