Please note that this is an Archived article and may contain content that is out of date. The use of she/her/hers pronouns in some articles is not intended to be exclusionary. Eating disorders can affect people of all genders, ages, races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, body shapes, and weights.
By Quinn Nystrom, MS
November is a month of so many wonderful holidays and observances including things like Hug a Bear Day, World Kindness Day, Adoption Awareness Month and of course, Thanksgiving.
But the eleventh month is also known to many for one special reason: it’s National Diabetes Awareness Month. If you want the scoop on the backstory of how this national observance came to be, it all started on December 20, 2006, when the United Nations (UN) passed a resolution to designate November 14 as World Diabetes Day.
National Diabetes Awareness Month is the American home-grown version that still shares the same mission of raising awareness about diabetes and its prevention and complications, but advocates of this disease refuse to limit this time of education to one.single.day.
So why is a whole month needed for diabetes awareness? The American Diabetes Association has estimated that 30 million, or 9.4 percent of Americans, have diabetes and an estimated 84 million Americans have prediabetes. But this November observation also works to continue, and amplify the conversation about eating disorders as well.
According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), “Diabulimia is a media-coined term that refers to an eating disorder in a person with diabetes, typically type I diabetes, wherein the person purposefully restricts insulin in order to lose weight. Some medical professionals use the term ED-DMT1, Eating Disorder-Diabetes Mellitus Type 1, which is used to refer to any type of eating disorder comorbid with type 1 diabetes.”
National Diabetes Awareness Month provides an opportunity to not only raise awareness about type 1 diabetes, but also shed light on the eating disorders that often go hand-in-hand with this autoimmune disease. With diabetes there is an intense focus on food, nutrition labels, weight, blood glucose and controlling things. Studies have shown that there is a higher risk factor for women with type 1 diabetes to develop an eating disorder, opposed to a woman who does not have this diagnosis.
Since I am a firm believer that knowledge is empowering, I’d like to share some of the sites that are my personal favs when it comes to sharing the very real facts about the eating issues that accompany diabetes along with managing diabetes as well.
Joslin.org: Joslin is a great source of expertise and relevant information. One of facts that someone will see when visiting their website is that women with type 1 diabetes are more than twice as likely to develop an eating disorder as age-matched women without diabetes. This info-packed site is filled with important information like recognizing eating disorders in diabetics and the cycle it plays in one’s life.
Beyond Type1.org: Located in Menlo Park, California, this non-profit was founded in 2015 by Juliet de Baubigny, Nick Jonas (yes, THAT Nick Jonas), Sarah Lucas and Sam Talbot. Beyond Type 1’s mission since Day One is to leverage the power of social media and technology, changing what it means to live with a chronic disease. The edgy vibe of Beyond Type 1 appeals to the younger generation while bridging the gap from diagnosis to cure, empowering people to live well today and funding a better tomorrow.
InsulinNation.com: Insulin Nation is basically a vibrant news channel dedicated to delivering news and views on life with Type 1 diabetes, diabetes research, and insulin therapy. This site also recognizes and reports on the reality and “fake news” surrounding ED-DMT1 and the news media coined phrase, diabulimia like this one. This site is a professionally curated source of relevant information for diabetes patients and their families.
How will you acknowledge National Diabetes Awareness Month?