Know the Right Warning Signs of Disordered Eating and Diabetes
Up to half of women with diabetes struggle with food anxiety, chronic weight fluctuations or preoccupation with weight and body image. Which means they’re at elevated risk of developing an eating disorder.1
With such a high population experiencing disordered eating, it’s important to get educated and know the warning signs.
Disordered eating is when someone shows irregular eating behaviors. From food preoccupation and weight obsession to rigid rituals and food anxiety.
Disordered eating turns into an eating disorder when food obsession impairs your concentration. Or your daily functions.
The most commonly reported eating disorder among people with diabetes is insulin omission. This was previously referred to as “diabulimia.”
Insulin omission is when you purposely restrict insulin intake to cause hyperglycemia or diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Without enough insulin, your body breaks down fat as energy — causing weight loss. 2
This is an extremely dangerous habit. Diabetic ketoacidosis can lead to coma or even death.
Look out for DKA symptoms including 2:
- Frequent urination
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Fruity-scented breath
- Feeling tired or fatigued
Other Eating Disorders
Diabulimia may be the most common eating disorder for people with diabetes. But, it isn’t the only one.
Other common eating disorders include:
- Bulimia Nervosa (bulimia) is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder. People with bulimia may secretly binge — eating large amounts of food with a loss of control over the eating — and then purge, trying to get rid of the extra calories in an unhealthy way. This can include vomiting, use of laxatives, excessive exercising, and other methods. 3
- Anorexia Nervosa (anorexia) is an eating disorder characterized by an abnormally low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of weight. People with anorexia place a high value on controlling their weight and shape, using extreme efforts that tend to significantly interfere with their lives. 4
- Binge-Eating Disorder is a serious eating disorder in which you frequently consume unusually large amounts of food and feel unable to stop eating. 5
The Warning Signs
Knowing what eating disorders are is the first step. Now, it’s time to pay attention to warning signs.
- Change in attitude or behaviors toward food, weight or self-perception
- Frequent checking in the mirror of perceived flaws
- Negative or distorted self-image
- Changes in mood — irritability, depression, or apathy
Physical Symptoms 6 :
- Avoiding eating with others
- Food rituals — cutting food into tiny pieces when unnecessary or excessive chewing
- Hoarding or hiding food
- Eating in secret
- Excessive exercising an unhealthy amount
- Disappearing after eating, often to the bathroom
- Large amounts of food disappearing in short time frames
The chance for recovery increases the earlier an eating disorder is detected.
If you find yourself fixating on food, obsessing over your body, or developing unhealthy habits, seek help. Your diabetes care team, nutritionists and therapists are all resources that help prevent disordered eating.