If you’ve ever been around hardcore gym rats or aspiring runway models, than you’re pretty familiar with eating disorders. Bulimia being the most common of the bunch. Watching extremely jacked men with big appetites pound down a bunch of food and then force themselves to throw it up is not a pretty sight to see.
Or watching a female model eat a small meal and shortly after throw it back up so she can fit into a size zero dress is a very sad sight to see. But another demographic that have slowly developed an eating disorder that are not nearly talked about enough are diabulimics – people who restrict their insulin intakes so they can manage weight.
If you are familiar with diabetes, then you know how important insulin injections are to maintain a diabetics survival. For more information on this eating disorder, continue to read on.
What is Diabulimia: As mentioned at the beginning, diabulimic is an eating disorder where diabetics routinely skip their insulin injections in order to lose weight. The insulin injections are used to keep the blood sugar levels under control. So if you skip the injections, you will have a low sugar level, which will transition into weight loss.
The issue with diabetics that have this eating disorder is they only see the smaller picture, which is weight loss. They fail to see the bigger picture and the even bigger health risk they are putting themselves in by skipping their insulin injections.
Signs of Diabulimia: You won’t be able to count on someone suffering from diabulimia to come forward and admit they need help. So you’ll have to take matters into your own hands and look for the following signs in order to properly diagnose.
Regular Changes in Weight: This is the most common sign that you’ll be able to spot. The weight change will be extremely visible and you’ll be able to see this change from the face and neck the most.
Awkwardness over Questions about Diabetes and Insulin Injections: Just like a lot of people who feel guilty about something they have done or are doing wrong, diabulimics are no different. Because they know how deadly and dangerous their disease is, and how important the injections are, they will usually brush off questions about it or get defensive if people ask how they’re doing.
Avoiding Clinic Appointments: Diabetics have to see their doctor for routine checkups so they can see if the insulin injections are working or if they have to either lower the dosage or increase it. They know this and they also know that the doctor will immediately realize they’re not taking their insulin injections based on the weight loss and lower blood sugar levels. So they will constantly cancel appointments.
They Have a High HbA1c: HbA1c refers to glycated haemoglobin. It develops when haemoglobin, a protein within red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout your body. By measuring this, the clinician will be able to get an overall idea of what the patients overall blood sugar level has been over the past weeks/months. The higher the HbA1c, the greater risk of complications.
Thirsty: When a diabetic has low insulin in their bodies, they begin to dehydrate, and when you’re dehydrated, you begin to get very thirsty. You’ll notice this often, especially if you and the diabetic are not doing anything physically demanding and they seem very parched.
Frequent Urination: Because the insulin injections regulate the diabetics sugar levels, if they stop taking them, their sugar levels can become high, causing the kidneys to work over time. This will cause the individual to constantly urinate.
Abnormally Tired During the Day: If you notice that the diabetic is constantly looking fatigue during the day and it’s become a frequent occurrence, their blood sugar levels can either be really high or really low. Both are caused by not taking their insulin injections.
Blurred Vision: If you hear the diabetic complain that their vision is blurry, or complain of headaches, the cause of this is usually low or high blood sugar, directly caused from not maintaining their blood sugar levels with their insulin injections.
Prefer to Eat Alone: Because they have irregular eating behaviors, individuals suffering from diabulimia will prefer to eat alone because they are going to overeat. If they are forced to eat with others, they will eat small portions of food that contain low calories. But the second they are alone, they will pound down the most unhealthy food they can find.
Facts about Diabilimia: Women who have Type 1 Diabetes are twice as likely to develop eating disorders as women with no diabetes. Also, 30 to 35 percent of women who have Type 1 Diabetes admit that they attempted to lose weight by not taking their prescribed insulin injections.
Treatments: There are several different treatments for those suffering from diabulimia.
Shift Focus Away from Weight: The main reason diabetics suffer from this disorder is because they are so concerned with the weight on their body. The best approach to this treatment is to try and get the person to stop frequently stepping on the scale. If they don’t know how much they weigh, they won’t feel the need to lose weight.
Promote Exercise: Adding exercise into the individual’s treatment plan will not only make them healthier, but it will give them a safer alternative to losing weight.