The Connection Between Eating Disorders & Diabetes

People with diabulimia struggling with eating disorders are especially vulnerable to risk factors beyond their control. It takes a team of specialized professionals, experts in every aspect of ED-DMT1, also referred to as diabulimia, to ensure the safest and most effective continuum of care for individuals facing this unique challenge.

Our Unique Diabulimia Approach

At Center for Change, we provide full-service diabulimia treatment, with round-the-clock nursing and dietary care that stabilizes blood sugar levels long in flux due to the eating disorder. Our physicians and nurse practitioners evaluate patients consistently and provide medical interventions related to their specific needs. Our Certified Diabetic Educator performs weekly assessments for each patient with diabetes, collaborating with members of the treatment team and with outside medical specialists, such as the patient’s endocrinologist, to ensure the best individualized care and treatment our patients deserve.
The medical and dietary team work closely together to ensure that individual meal plans are created to meet the patient’s dietary needs. At the beginning of diabulimia treatment, the dietary model is quite structured to help stabilize the patient medically and provide the best chance for treatment success. As the patient progresses, the dietitian uses an Intuitive Eating approach to help the patient reclaim pleasure in eating and find a nutritional balance that best manages their diabetes. It is important to move the patient to a place of medical stability and then develop ways to be successful at managing their diabetes throughout the treatment experience.

Continuous Monitoring Is Key

When a person with diabulimia is admitted with an eating disorder, we conduct a thorough assessment of the patient’s medical condition and past treatment, including baseline labs such as HbA1c. A1c levels will be checked throughout treatment, which is important, showing the patient’s progress and how their dietary needs are affecting her body and glucose control. Our phase program allows patients to practice different levels of blood sugar monitoring and administer insulin, building trust between them and our medical staff. We also provide educational opportunities that challenge and change the pattern of manipulating blood sugars and insulin to engage in eating disorder motives and behaviors. With our expertise, we are able to accommodate those patients who utilize continuous glucose monitoring systems or insulin pumps based on their history and medical assessment.

Our goal throughout this process is to pave the way for discharge and lay the groundwork long-term recovery.

Population Served

• Adolescents & Adults
• Primary Diagnosis – Anorexia Nervosa / Bulimia Nervosa / OSFED / Binge Eating Disorder
• Secondary Diagnosis – Type 1 Diabetes

Treatment Team

• Board Certified Endocrinologist
• Psychiatrist
• Certified Diabetes Educator, Nurse Practitioner
• Registered Dietitians
• Licensed Masters level or PhD level clinicians specially trained in treating ED-DMT1 and co-occurring issues
• Nurses
• Experiential Therapists (Art Therapy / Music Therapy / Yoga / RIMBA / Recreation Therapy)
• Care Technicians

In addition to the extensive treatment services we provide for eating disorders, the following services are provided for those patients who also present with Type 1 Diabetes:

• Evaluation, consultation and oversight of care by an Endocrinologist
• Initial and ongoing evaluation by an APRN, Certified Diabetes Educator, and RN
• ED-DMT1/Chronic Illness Support & Therapy Group
• Graduating access to self-administered blood glucose monitoring and insulin management
• Ongoing patient & family education and support about ED-DMT1 and co-occurring eating disorders

Additional Resources

Eating Disorder and Type 1 Diabetes at Center for Change: Questions and Answers

American Diabetes Association

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

National Eating Disorders Association

Quinn Nystrom