Saturday, March 21, 2015

Diabulimia - A Growing Problem

Diabulimia - a combination of Type 1 diabetes and a specific eating disorder. To sum this condition up in one word - DANGEROUS!
   If a person has diabulimia, he or she purposely gives less insulin in an effort to lose weight. It works. You can lose a lot of weight in a short period of time . . . and even more. You can lose your eyesight, your kidneys, your limbs. When a diabetic purposely takes less insulin to supplement the carbohydrates consumed, the blood sugar gets too high. When the blood sugar is too high too long, serious diabetes-related complications arise.
   One of those complications is diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) which is very common among those with diabulimia. DKA is caused by lack of insulin and the body's attempt to find an energy source due to that lack. Acids are released into the blood, sugar is ejected through the urine, putting an excessive strain on your kidneys. The resulting symptoms are excessive thirst and urination, dehydration, vomiting and nausea, hyperventilation, fatigue, weight loss and muscle pain. DKA is a painful and miserable thing to go through. If the condition is not caught soon enough, it will progress to coma and death.
   To me, that seems like too high a price to pay to lose a few pounds.
   Type 1 women tend to have a higher BMI than non-diabetics. Insulin and carbohydrates have long been linked to excess weight, but those play an integral part in a Type 1's life. Insulin is a necessary hormone to keep us alive, but it is also a weight-gaining hormone. Our thyroids are also put at risk because of diabetes. But, developing a habit of going out and eating a cheeseburger with fries and then taking an insufficient amount of insulin because you're afraid of what pounds that might pack on - you're playing a dangerous game, Type 1 Russian roulette. The only way you will survive is if you get help before damage is caused.
   We are a nation that is obsessed with weight and losing it. As the numbers of those suffering from bulimia and anorexia rises, so does the number of those suffering from diabulimia. It is a way to lose weight without putting forth much effort and you can indulge in your cravings.
   It is tempting to lose weight by not taking enough insulin and eating foods that make other dieters jealous - chips, cookies, donuts, burgers, pizza - basically anything with a high carb and sugar content.
   Trust me, I know the temptation to cause weight loss by manipulating my insulin intake. I've been in DKA twice and the weight I lost both times was intense. I even considered it a couple years ago and I gave it a go for a couple of days. I don't know if I lost any weight and I honestly don't care. I felt miserable. Because of the nausea caused by excessively high blood sugar, I would look at foods that had plenty of carbs and almost vomit. As a result, I could only drink broth. And a vicious cycle ensued during those days. Broth has no carbs, so I didn't have to take insulin. My blood sugar crept higher and higher. I finally decided that the weight loss experiment was not worth it. I took some extra insulin to get my blood sugar down to normal levels and then I grabbed some saltine crackers. I felt better before the end of the day, but I did not feel 100 percent until a couple days later.
   If you are a Type 1 diabetic and looking to lose weight, the best thing you can do is exercise and lessen the carbohydrates you consume. You will take less insulin because you are eating less carbs. As a result, your blood sugar will not go sky high. The weight loss will not be as significant in a short period of time. You will not lose 30 pounds in two weeks. The weight loss will be gradual, but it will not kill you. Just remember to monitor your blood sugars very closely if you go with less carbs and insulin. Make the appropriate adjustments that are needed in order to meet your goals and keep yourself healthy, happy and alive.


  1. This is the first time that I've heard of Diabulimia, it sounds very dangerous. I cannot believe that people actually do that on purpose. I found this post very informative, thank you for sharing this.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it, M Clark! I heard about a young woman in England who went blind in her right eye due to her diabulimia. It is amazing what lengths people will go to.