Are You Considering How To Make Yourself Throw Up?
Updated June 19, 2020
Reviewer Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
Vomiting is an uncomfortable topic for most people. Nobody likes to do it-or think about it. But because forcing yourself to throw up can indicate an eating disorder, it's important to talk about. There are specific circumstances where vomiting may be necessary, but those who struggle with eating disorders and controlling their weight require careful attention from mental health professionals. If you are worried about a medical emergency, such as poison or too much medicine ingested, you should call your doctor or a poison control center right away. They can give you some ideas on what to try to rid your body of a potential toxin without the anxiety of having to solve this problem on your own.
What Causes a Person to Want to Throw Up?
It's doubtful that anyone enjoys the act of vomiting, however, certain thought processes compel some people to do so. One of the most common reasons a person may feel the need to vomit is the desire to control how they look. This is a primary cause of many eating disorders. For example, if a person feels they're overweight and has a negative self-image, they may attempt to rectify this by purging their food.
Along with being a chronic mental health concern, eating disorders can cause severe physical health problems, and in many cases, it can cause a person to, ironically, gain weight. We'll discuss why later. Sometimes, eating disorders can even be fatal, but fortunately, with the right support and treatment, this outcome is entirely preventable.
Is It Ever Healthy to Force Yourself to Throw Up?
There are certain instances where it may be wise to induce vomiting, like if you've eaten something toxic, or maybe if you drank too much. In these cases, your body may vomit automatically. Some people will overeat to the point of making themselves sick but not as far as vomiting. Maybe you accidentally took the wrong medication. Whatever the reason, making yourself throw up without an order from a doctor or poison control is not usually a good idea. You should contact your doctor immediately if you're trying to induce vomiting due to something you ate. They will walk you through the proper, medically safe steps.
Questions Your Doctor May Ask
If you are on the phone with your doctor in one of these instances, or if you have called about someone else, the physician may ask:
- What did you eat or drink?
- How much did you eat or drink?
- When did it happen?
- How are you feeling right now?
- Why did you eat or drink?
- Has this happened before?
- What do you expect vomiting to do for you?
- Are you trying to throw up to lose weight?
How to Safely Throw Up
If your doctor recommends inducing vomiting, there are several safe methods:
- Emetics - You can try an ipecac to make you throw up. Follow the instructions on the bottle, but be exact because too much can be fatal. Your doctor may suggest some other substances that can induce vomiting.
- Toothbrush - Use your toothbrush to push on the back of your tongue until you feel the gag reflex.
- Finger - Rather than a toothbrush, you can use your finger, but be careful not to scratch yourself with your fingernails.
- Mustard Mix - You can mix one tablespoon of plain yellow mustard with six to eight ounces of warm water, and drink it down in one big gulp. This may take up to 30 minutes to work, and it doesn't work for everyone.
- Rotten Odors - Sometimes just smelling something awful such as rotten food or a smelly trash can will make you throw up.
- Visual Help - Watch a video of someone else throwing up. Some people are able to vomit just by watching someone else do it.
The safest thing to do is to follow your doctor's orders, including when to seek help if your efforts fail.
Vomiting to Lose Weight: A Different Issue
There are medical reasons a professional might suggest induced vomiting, but there are psychological reasons why some feel the need to do so. Some doctors will assess for this when asking someone about their motivations for wanting to vomit.
You may be considering, or have considered, making yourself vomit because you're hoping it will help control your weight after eating a quantity of food you regret.
If you're trying to make yourself throw up to lose weight, it's recommended you speak to your doctor or a mental health professional. Many people who induce vomiting develop a pattern of compulsive behavior called bulimia nervosa. People with this condition engage in episodes of overeating called binging, and then afterward engage in purging behavior. Unfortunately, over time, the stress of these actions on the body can cause adverse physical and emotional effects, and it won't lead to any long-term weight loss.
Your body will only get rid of half of the calories you consume, so if you're purging and vomiting, you'll end up gaining weight in the long run. Bulimia nervosa also slows your metabolism, causing your body to store the calories, leading to weight gain. In addition, stomach acid can cause damage to your teeth. It could even lead to an electrolyte imbalance and cause a heart attack or stroke. There can be other negative health consequences, such as damage to your esophagus, sores on your hands, and other digestive issues.
The DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) lists the symptoms of bulimia nervosa as follows:
- Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of binge eating is characterized by both of the following:
- Eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g., within a two hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than what most people would eat during a similar period of time and under similar circumstances.
- Lack of control over eating during the episode (e.g., a feeling that you cannot stop eating, or control what or how much you are eating).
- Recurrent inappropriate compensatory behavior to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or other medications, fasting, or excessive exercise.
- The binge eating and inappropriate compensatory behaviors both occur, on average, at least once a week for three months.
- Self-evaluation is unduly influenced by body shape and weight.
- Binging or purging does not occur exclusively during episodes of behavior that would be common in those with anorexia nervosa.
If you often feel you have to make yourself throw up after eating, or if you engage in episodes of binge-eating with other types of purging, talking to a mental health professional can help you get to the root of this behavior and change it. Working with someone who understands that this behavior is more than about food can help you create a healthier relationship with eating, increased body positivity, and a long-term solution to your troubles. It can be hard at first to think about reaching out about this struggle, but mental health professionals will listen without judgment or bias. Research shows that online therapy can be a powerful tool in reducing bulimia symptoms.
How BetterHelp Can Help
If you don't know where to start looking for a licensed therapist, or if you're concerned about seeing someone face-to-face, consider an online counseling platform such as BetterHelp.com.
BetterHelp has therapists that specialize in eating disorders such as bulimia, and they're ready to speak to you, or chat with you in the comfort of your own home. The counseling services are confidential and affordable. Counseling can help you find that you have the power to change this cycle and feel more in control of your weight, your decisions, and your emotions. Read some of the reviews in the next section to see how others found relief for similar issues with BetterHelp's online services.
"Ingrid has been incredible! She is so supportive and encouraging of my healthy behaviors and really helps me problem solve when I have a particular problem. I never feel judged, it's always a safe space to talk about how I'm feeling. Thanks, Ingrid, it's fantastic to have the extra support I need right now."
"In the short time that I've talked with her, I've found Sirena to be warm, receptive, and understanding of my needs and goals with therapy. She listens with attention and care to my issues of the moment and always seeks the best path to resolve those issues for me in a prompt, healthy and meaningful way."
There are times when self-induced vomiting is understandable and may even help you (only in the case that you've spoken with a medical professional), but in other situations it can point to an eating disorder. If you have one, it doesn't need to be permanent. Hopefully, by reading this article, you've learned how you can find help and put an end to throwing up or having thoughts of doing so. Take the first step to a truly healthy and fulfilling life today.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is making yourself throw up bad?
That depends. If you're throwing up because you have an upset stomach -- or because you've ingested something toxic, throwing up can be a good thing. If you're throwing up or wondering how to make yourself throw up due to an eating disorder -- this is definitely a cause for concern.
How do you make yourself throw up when you have no gag reflex?
Wondering how to make yourself throw up (for health reasons) without a gag reflex? You're not alone. Not everyone has the ability to throw up easily. Ways to induce vomiting include ingesting ipecac syrup or using one of the other techniques mentioned above can speed up the process.
Is it okay to throw up if you ate too much?
Forcing your body to throw up may be the only option if you're feeling overfull or if you've ingested something poisonous. Some people throw up easily while others only feel like throwing up if you expose yourself to unpleasant odors or visuals.
What to do immediately after throwing up?
After throwing up, immediately rinse your mouth out with water to prevent food and stomach acid from damaging your teeth. You may want to lie down and rest for a few minutes if you're feeling dizzy or lightheaded -- and in case you feel like throwing up again.
Can bulimia kill you?
Over time, serious mental health eating disorders like bulimia can kill you. One of the many side effects of throwing up is a potential electrolyte imbalance that can be fatal if left unchecked. People with bulimia are often infatuated with the idea of how to make yourself throw up. If this is you, seek help immediately from a licensed medical or mental health professional to get help with an eating disorder.
How does it feel to be bulimic?
People who are bulimic are constantly plagued with thought about how to make yourself throw up. Bulimic people are usually able to throw up easily as they spend time looking for more effective ways to vomit. The prevailing thought in a bulimics mind is "how to make yourself throw up more effectively." If you find yourself in a tailspin of trying to learn new ways of how to make yourself throw up, talk to a licensed medical or mental health professional for support and advice.
Can you make yourself sick?
Yes, you can. If you expose yourself to unpleasant odors, thoughts, or images, you can literally make yourself sick. If you're wondering how to make yourself throw up in response to a medical concern or ingesting a toxic substance a medical doctor can give you the best advice on how to do so safely. Trying to figure out how to make yourself throw up for non-medical reasons or due to an eating disorder is not recommended. Talk to a mental health professional if you find yourself obsessed with how to make yourself throw up.
What foods make you vomit?
If you're wondering how to make yourself throw up for health reasons, a mix of mustard and warm water works for some people. Some people throw up more easily than others. Other foods that make people vomit are dependent on the individual. Are you trying to figure out how to make yourself throw up because your body is reacting to something -- or is there a deeper issue like an eating disorder? Think about the side effects that come with learning how to make yourself throw up on a regular basis that can even lead to death.
Does throwing up make you feel better?
If you want to learn how to make yourself throw up for medical reasons, such as being overfull or ingesting a toxic substance -- vomiting will likely make you feel better in those cases where it's safe to throw up. Some people have trouble making themselves vomit -- while others are able to throw up easily. Side effects of throwing up when it's not necessary as in the case of eating disorders like bulimia can be weight gain, mood changes, electrolyte imbalance, and even death. Think about these side effects if you're wondering how to make yourself throw up for non-medical reasons.
Can you psych yourself into feeling sick?
Are you wondering how to make yourself throw up and if you can psych yourself into feeling sick? The answer is yes. This is especially true for people who naturally throw up easily, or those that have trained themselves to throw up easily. If you need to know how to make yourself throw up for medical reasons, you can try exposing yourself to unpleasant odors or one of the other methods listed above. Remember the side effects of throwing up when you have an eating disorder can lead to exhaustion, fatigue, dehydration, and even death.