It’s really saddening to hear what extreme measures people take just to lose weight. You would be shocked to hear that some people would stop taking their insulin shots so they could shed some weight. Let’s talk about diabulimia today shall we?
Diabulimia (a portmanteau of diabetes and bulimia) is an eating disorder in which people with type 1 diabetes deliberately give themselves less insulin than they need or stop taking it altogether for the purpose of weight loss (occurs especially among teenage girls). Although no official diagnosis by the medical or psychiatric communities but the phrases “disturbed eating behavior” or “disordered eating behavior” (DEB in both cases) and disordered eating (DE) are quite common in medical and psychiatric literature addressing patients who have type 1 diabetes and manipulate insulin doses to control weight along with exhibiting bulimic behavior.
Starting insulin could mean weight gain for some people, but omitting insulin shots to help reduce this weight would just put you in more dangers of glucose spiking and symptoms of diabetes (frequent urination, increased thirst and hunger etc).
But really, every growing child should gain weight, and remember that type 1 DM affects majorly children.
Without insulin, the body technically has 14 days to live, during this period, one might go into diabetic ketoacidosis, degeneration of nerves and break down of organs also occurs during this period of dangerous eating disorder.
Diabulimia complications are a mix of those that come with diabetes and eating disorders:
- High blood sugar levels
- Sugar in your urine
- Muscle loss
- Diabetic ketoacidosis
- High cholesterol
- Bacterial skin infections
- Yeast infections
- Skipped or abnormal periods
- Staph infections
- Damage to the blood vessels in your eyes (retinopathy)
- Numbness in your hands and feet from nerve damage
- Peripheral arterial disease
- Thicker arterial walls (atherosclerosis)
- Liver disease
- Low sodium and potassium levels
The first and most obvious sign of diabulimia is losing weight without trying. Other signs include:
- Feeling tired all the time
- Feeling thirsty a lot
- Thinking or talking a lot about body image
- Blood sugar records that don’t match up with hemoglobin A1c readings
- Depression or mood swings
- Secrecy about blood sugar, insulin, food, or eating habits
- Canceling doctors’ appointments
- Eating more often, especially sugary foods
- Delayed puberty
- Stress within the family
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
- Sweet-smelling breath (a sign of ketoacidosis)
- Exercising a lot
WHAT TO DO?
Every eating disorder is a mental illness and so is diabulimia, It’s advisable to seek nutritional, medical and psychological help from professionals.