Each November brings extra attention to diabetes and the tens of millions of people affected by it. Did you know women and girls with type 1 diabetes are at increased risk for developing an eating disorder? One study reports over 30% of women with type 1 diabetes meet the criteria for an eating disorder (Diabetes Care 2015;38:1212–1217). Another statistic suggests 36% of women with type 1 diabetes report intentionally reducing or omitting insulin to control weight (Practical Diabetology March/April 2014). This behavior is sometimes referred to as “diabulimia”. Despite the prevalence of diabetes and the common connection with eating disorders, many individuals avoid seeking treatment. Increased awareness and education is needed to debunk the myths, stereotypes, and misconceptions about not only diabetes, but the combination of having diabetes and an eating disorder.
In honor of American Diabetes Month and the American Diabetes Association’s 2016 campaign to “share your story”, I would like to showcase a real-life story of a young woman combating the challenge of having type 1 diabetes and an eating disorder. She shared the following thoughts:
“Like most diabetics I’ve ever met, I have struggled feeling controlled and manipulated by diabetes. Diabetes has been a huge struggle and the primary influence in the development of my eating disorder.
Prior to coming to Center for Change, I used eating disorder behaviors as a way to “manage” diabetes and regain the freedom I felt like it had stolen from me. I became entrapped in an inescapable, vicious, and addictive cycle that I felt like was necessary to manage diabetes.
My treatment team at Center for Change has shown me that it is possible to learn the balance between intuitive eating/movement and diabetes management. They have helped empower me with knowledge, skills, and self-compassion. I have never felt freer as a diabetic than I do now. I wish that I could have come here earlier than I did.”
Eating disorders complicated by diabetes (ED-DMT1) is a challenging combination. At Center for Change unique protocols and programs have been developed to specifically support those individuals who struggle with these two potentially life threatening conditions.
To learn more about the ED-DMT1 program at Center for Change, click here: https://centerforchange.com/diabulimia/
By Jenaca Beagley, NP-C, CDE
Nurse Practitioner and Certified Diabetes Educator
Center for Change