What is Diabulimia?
Diabulimia – or Diabetic Bulimia – is a combination of an eating disorder and Type 1 Diabetes.
In order to lose weight or keep their weight down, Type 1 diabetics who suffer from Diabulimia don’t take as much insulin as their bodies need. This practice can result in weight loss because insulin is a storage hormone which promotes fat.
If you have Diabulimia, you may well show the signs associated with other eating disorders, such as these symptoms of Anorexia. On the other hand, controlling your insulin may be the only way you manipulate your weight and you otherwise have fairly normal eating patterns.
Diabulimia is also known as ED-DMT1. As yet, it has not been officially recognised as a medical or psychological condition.
Why do people suffer from Diabulimia?
Diabulimia is usually linked to a need for control and the pursuit of perfection – in the same way that commonly recognised eating disorders are, such as Anorexia, Bulimia or Binge Eating Disorder.
However, females suffering from Type 1 Diabetes are twice as likely to develop Anorexia or Bulimia as their non-diabetic peers, and up to 40% of 15-30 year olds are skipping their insulin on a regular basis*.
We Are Diabetes points out the unique factors that can cause diabetics to develop Diabulimia:
- the focus on food and controlling and restricting diet that is needed to manage Type 1 Diabetes
- the emotional and psychological impact of living with this chronic medical condition – it is tough and sometimes skipping insulin may start as a simple rejection of Diabetes but gradually develop into an eating disorder
While Diabulimia mostly affects women at present, men do suffer too, and the numbers are growing.
How can we help you beat Diabulimia?
At The Recover Clinic we have experience of working with clients who suffer with Diabulimia.
We realise that it takes an enormous amount of courage to admit to suffering from this condition because psychologically it is so sensitive and so complex – insulin becomes your friend and foe in the battle for control over your mind and body.
We are here, ready to listen for as long as you need us to, ready to accept and understand. And then ready to work with you to beat this life-threatening eating disorder.
We do not have a one-size-fits-all treatment program.
After an initial assessment, we will create a program that meets your needs, from one-to-one counselling and CBT to creative therapy and nutritional consultations. You will be actively involved in your recovery from Diabulimia – not just an observer.
We will also liaise closely with the other medical professionals who are supporting you so that your treatment is as holistic as possible.
Get in touch
If you think you may be suffering from Diabulimia, please give us a call on 0845 603 6530 or fill in our short contact form for advice and support.
Symptoms of Diabulimia
It can be easy to overlook the symptoms of Diabulimia as they can be confused with (or indeed start out as) a rebellion against or lack of understanding of the level of self-control needed to manage Type 1 Diabetes, particularly in younger people who just want to enjoy a carefree life like that of their non-diabetic peers. However, here are some symptoms to look out for:
Behavioural symptoms of Diabulimia
- Missing Diabetes check-ups
- Being evasive when questioned about injections and Diabetes control
- Feeling depressed and anxious
- Overachieving behaviours
- Obsession with appearance/body shape
Physical symptoms of Diabulimia
- Frequent changes in weight
- A high HbA1c (What is HbA1c?) compared with results entered in a blood glucose diary
- Damage to muscle tissue
- Hair loss
Because missing out on insulin causes a diabetic’s blood glucose levels to rise too high, someone who has Diabulimia may well show signs of hyperglycaemia:
- Intense thirst
- Need to urinate often
- Extreme tiredness
- Blurred vision
By restricting insulin but not completely rejecting it, a diabetic may well avoid ketoacidosis (What is ketoacidosis?) and fail to display obvious signs that they aren’t managing their condition while still causing tremendous damage to their body – some of which is irreversible, such as
- Nerve disorders
- Kidney disease
- Heart problems
In the worst cases, Diabulmia can lead to death.
Do I have Diabulimia?
Think about the symptoms described above and then take a look at the questions that follow. If you are diabetic and find you answer yes to one or more, you could be suffering from Diabulimia. Get in touch to see how we can help you.
- find your mood changes significantly depending on how much you weigh?
- get irritable easily over what your friends and family consider to be minor issues?
- sometimes skip your insulin injections?
- miss appointments to avoid talking about your Diabetes management?
- hear your friends and family worry about your weight or eating habits?
- get obsessive about what is in food and calories?
- suffer from thinning hair, worn dental enamel, hypoglycemia or osteoporosis?
- get extremely concerned about putting on any weight?
- if female, no longer get your period?
Get in touch today
Call us on 0845 603 6530 or fill in our short contact form to get help and advice now.