30 Days With Diabetes: Diabulimia Research

I’m not a stress eater. In fact, when I’m stressed, I typically lose weight from “not eating.” Back in 2014, when I was commuting 5.5 hours per day to and from Baltimore and DC and nearing the end of a long-term relationship, I dropped down to 118 pounds (my lowest adult weight to date).

Fortunately now, the people closest to me know this about me and are great about checking me on this matter. So is diabetes. Before (and even after) I was diagnosed with Type 1, I struggled with a positive body image. I engaged in unhealthy behaviors, and although never diagnosed, I exhibited the signs of an eating disorder.

Even when diabetes came along, this was a hard habit to break. I ended up developing a binge eating disorder because I resented diabetes for not allowing me to indulge in certain foods anymore, and then I started omitting insulin so I wouldn’t gain weight from the binge eating. This is called “Diabulimia.” It’s something I’ve written about before on this blog.  Continue reading

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Weightless

Sometimes it can be one look in the mirror. Sometimes it can be the tightening feeling of a pencil skirt. Sometimes it can be that bloated feeling right before the monthly cycle. Sometimes it can be the fact that one hasn’t been on a date in six months. Sometimes it can be the wintry mix outside and the mood it brings.

But whatever it is, it’s not good. It leads to a feeling of failure, of powerlessness over the fate of one’s body. All of those negative, self-critical thoughts come flooding back, and no matter how bright the sun peaks through the blackout curtains, the darkness overwhelms the room.

People asked how it is I lost weight in the past year. My response was always “I don’t know.” A five-hour daily commute. A failed relationship. Depression. Disease. I tried to believe it’s because I finally had a good body image. I listened to my diabetes, and I stayed active (this mostly constituted walking a mile to and from the train every day). Continue reading

Diabulimia: A Personal Struggle With Body Image and Diabetes

Strawberry-Cream-PieAccording to the American Diabetes Association, diabetic women are nearly three times more likely to develop an eating disorder than non-diabetic women.

Diabulimia is one of the more prevalent eating disorders among Type 1 diabetic women, that is reducing the amount of insulin one takes to lose weight. Scary, right? It certainly is.

Because not only do eating disorders lead to their own series of problems (slow heart rate, low blood pressure, brittle bones, hair loss, severe dehydration, etc.), but when a Type 1 diabetic does not take the insulin he or she needs, this just adds to the complications which may lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, stroke, and even death.

Unfortunately, I was one of those Type 1 women, and still am, to a certain extent because I believe one never completely finishes the battle with body image. But my story started before I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2009. It started at 13 when I noticed I no longer fit into my clothes and asked the one irrevocable question: Am I fat? Continue reading

Food Junkie

For the first time in 16 years, binging hasn’t been an issue. In my book Sugarcoated, I refer to myself as a “food junkie.” I love late night snacks such as peanut butter ice cream, sweet potato cinnamon crackers, pumpkin flax seed granola, etc.

Ever since college, I’ve conditioned myself to eat less during the day so I can binge for dinner or later. I grew up with the rule “if you finish dinner, you can have dessert.” I’ve never been able to break this. Even when binging got out of control to the point where I stuffed myself until I felt pain, I would throw it all up, refuse to take insulin, or starve myself the next day so I wouldn’t gain weight (for more insight, check out “Half Empty” in Sugarcoated).

I no longer practice these nasty habits, but I still can’t help overeating at night, whether it is summer or winter … until now. So what has changed? Suddenly, I’m not interested in food? I forget to eat lunch or can’t even finish my dinner much less make it to dessert. Usually when I stop eating, it’s because I’m depressed.

But I recently started a new job, which I love, and moved in with my boyfriend of three years (we were doing long distance before then). I have my own place, financial security (minus thousands in student loan debt), and maintain a healthy lifestyle (although I wish I exercised more but with a 1.5 to 2.5 hour commute each way, it’s a challenge).

Could it be I stopped binging because I’m happy? Researchers from the University of Central Florida (2003) found a positive relationship between happiness and these aspects of body esteem: sexual attractiveness, weight concern, and physical condition.

Furthermore, eating disorders such as binging are more common among women with diabetes than women without diabetes. For those with Type 1 (like me), this is referred to as “diabulimia.” I admit even before I was diagnosed with diabetes at 22, I had issues with body image and eating disorders. Diabetes just added an extra element including increased health risks (Joslin Diabetes Center) such as: Continue reading