Living With

Diabulimia'? A Dangerous Eating Disorder for Diabetics

Ginger Vieira Health Guide June 18, 2007
  • I’d heard of this briefly once a few years ago: Type 1 diabetics running their blood sugars very high regularly and purposefully to lose weight. Apparently, this frightening habit has become a sort of weight-loss fad most commonly among young women and teenagers. And not only will skipping your insulin and running around 400 all day make you groggy and nauseous, it will inevitably lead to problems involving your kidneys, eyes and limbs.

     

    This is NOT new information.

     

    What boggles my mind about this bizarre weight-loss method is that you are literally sacrificing a functioning body for a pair of size-two pants. I don’t get it. Women make jokes about “dying to be thinner,” but this is literally doing just that.

     

    Aside from the body image issues surrounding the world of any young female in this society, I have a suspicion denial plays a large part here. Anyone with Type 1 diabetes knows very well the results of high blood sugar, but this extreme lack of health management says to me that they just might not want to accept the severe consequences of this.

     

    In an article on CNN, a 28-year-old woman suffered from kidney and eye problems that would have absolutely been avoided if she hadn’t spent the previous 17 years trying to lose weight through “diabulimia.”

     

    Losing weight is hard — yes — but, I can tell you from own efforts recently to lose about 15 pounds and gain better control over my blood sugars (it’s working, by the way), I found a successful and inarguably healthy method: eating healthy, exercising and taking my insulin properly.

     

    Sorry, it’s no miracle diet. It’s plain and simple. Cut out the junk food (the crackers, the sugary cereal, the bagels, the fries, the pizza, the ice cream and the pasta) and you will see results through doing that alone. By cutting out these high (and nutritionally useless) carbohydrates, you’re cutting down your insulin needs, and, as it has been explained by our doctors, the more insulin you’re taking, the more weight you’re likely to gain.

     

    Now, after getting rid of these foods…fuel up on fruits, vegetables, healthy carbs like oats and brown rice, and health proteins like low-fat chicken, beans and nuts…then go for a jog, to a yoga class, for a long walk or a game of golf —WHATEVER! The point is, losing weight is not a mystical, impossible thing. Losing weight shouldn’t just be about appearance and thinness, it should be about HEALTH. When you focus yourself more on the benefits of being healthy as a diabetic and just a regular old human being, you will inevitably lose weight. It’s not complicated, and it’s certainly a better bet than winding up with kidney disease when you’re 28 years old. What’s the point of being thin if you’re too sick to leave the house?