This week I would like to turn your attention to a condition called Diabulimia which is unfortunately becoming more common. It is an eating disorder related to diabetes, which can be incredibly dangerous and damaging.
Keep reading for an overview of Diabulimia and how to recognise and support it.
What is Diabulimia?
Diabulimia is when an individual living with diabetes (Type 1) stops injecting insulin in order to achieve extreme weight loss.
When people living with diabetes stop injecting insulin, glucose cannot be absorbed and used for energy. Glucose levels will build up in the blood and will eventually be filtered out by the kidneys and removed in urine.
People living with diabetes are susceptible to developing eating disorders because of constantly being ultra-aware of calorie intake, carb counting, and fearing hypo’s. This can result in the individual developing an unhealthy relationship with food and changing insulin doses for weight loss.
A point to note is that women and girls living with diabetes are statistically more likely to develop Diabulimia.
Why is it dangerous?
Having long-term high sugar levels due to not injecting insulin is extremely damaging to the body and can cause irreversible damage to the eyes, kidneys and limbs.
Excessive glucose in the blood causes damage to small blood vessels. This can potentially result in blindness, Chronic Kidney Disease and neuropathy (to name a few).
Diabulimia also poses the risk of developing DKA (Diabetic Keto-acidosis). This is a very serious complication of diabetes that can be fatal, and can occur very quickly if no insulin is being injected.
This is why it is absolutely vital to get help as soon as signs of Diabulimia show.
What to do if you think you have Diabulimia
Recovery from Diabulimia is absolutely possible, given the correct help and support.
Diabulimia is recognised by GP’s and consultants, so having a chat with them is a good place to start. The consultant or GP will refer you to a specialist to help your recovery.
Managing and living with diabetes can be both mentally and physically challenging. It is super important to address any problem and it is not shameful. Everybody living with diabetes will require support, it does not make you weak.
If you would like to talk to someone you don’t know, Diabetes UK have a helpline to get you started.
How to support someone living with Diabulimia
If you notice the signs of Diabulimia in a friend or family member living with diabetes, it is definitely worth talking to them about it. This can establish what you can do to help them.
They may become defensive, but the person will know you are there for them and it might help them to realise they have a problem.
The fantastic charity DWED (Diabetes with Eating Disorders) provide support to both the individual with an eating disorder, as well as support and guidance to family and friends. They have two Facebook groups so be sure to check them out!
Thank you for reading my Diabulimia 101, I really hope this was informative and can provide some guidance in these situations. Make sure you subscribe and follow me on Instagram!