Diabulimia describes a problem connected with individuals experiencing diabetes mellitus– normally kind 1– that purposely limit insulin in order to reduce weight. Diabulimia is a media-coined term that some medical professionals describe as “consuming disorder-diabetes Mellitus type 1” (ED-DMT1), which can be an overarching term used to define any type of eating disorder existing at the same time with kind 1 diabetes mellitus.
The problem can arise at any age and also any time after a preliminary diabetes medical diagnosis. Treatment is commonly much more difficult as well as less effective than with other eating disorders due to the fact that both the disorder as well as diabetic issues need to be resolved at the same time.
Signs and symptoms consist of an anxiety that insulin is making them hefty, secrecy about and also neglect of diabetic issues monitoring, the willful missing of diabetes mellitus visits, extreme body image anxiety, too much exercise, and also secluded eating. There are diabetes-specific signs and symptoms, as well, including A1C readings consistently over 9.0 as well as several DKA episodes.
Red Flags: Recognizing Signs of an Eating Disorder
If you suspect a loved one has an eating disorder, watch for several of the following:
Obsession with physique or weight: those with eating disorders typically stress over their weight or the fear of being fat.
Obsession on food intake: It prevails for those with eating disorders to stress over how much and exactly how frequently they’re eating and also with the calories related to even trivial amounts of food.
Issues with self-image: Numerous patients think they are or intensely fear being fat.
Drastic modifications in weight: Depending upon the disorder, patients usually promptly put on or take off a dramatic as well as unhealthy amount of body weight.
Sleepiness and anxiety: Sufferers generally lose interest in things that used to excited them, are often worn down, do not have the power to do activities they previously did, and/or are active or inactive.
A high decline in oral wellness: Eating disorders can cause remarkable dental concerns, gum tissue illness, and other oral health problems.
Swollen glands and also puffy cheeks: Issues with the salivary glands prevail signs of eating conditions.
Diabulimia is a media-coined term that refers to an eating disorder in a person with diabetes, usually type I diabetes, wherein the individual purposefully restricts insulin in order to drop weight. Some medical professionals use the term ED-DMT1, Eating Disorder-Diabetes Mellitus Kind 1, which is utilized to describe any type of type of eating problem comorbid with type 1 diabetes mellitus.
With the intense concentrate on food, labels, numbers (weight, blood glucose, A1c) and also control, plus the many disruptions that occur in a person’s metabolic system, we know that diabetic issues is a high threat element for establishing an eating disorder. Therefore, a person may develop diabulimia or ED-DMT1 at any type of age as well as at any type of factor after their diabetes diagnosis. In some cases it begins with body photo concerns or a wish to lose weight, and also occasionally it starts as diabetic issues burnout. No matter exactly how it begins, therapy can be tough as individuals with kind 1 diabetes tend to show greater failure rates and also poorer treatment end results than various other individuals. Treatment regimens have to attend to both the diabetes mellitus as well as eating disorder facets of the disorder.
Diabulimia does not have a different diagnostic code so an individual’s particular medical diagnosis will certainly rely on their eating disorder actions. The analysis handbook, DSM-5, categorizes insulin non-inclusion as a removing action, as a result it may be coded as bulimia nervosa if the person is binging after that restricting insulin. It might be detected as removing problem if the individual is consuming usually as well as limiting insulin or anorexia if the individual is significantly restricting both food as well as insulin. Diabulimia can likewise be diagnosed as Various other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder (OSFED).


Emotional and behavioral 

  • Increasing neglect of diabetes management
  • Secrecy about diabetes management
  • Avoiding diabetes related appointments
  • Fear of low blood sugars
  • Fear that “insulin makes me fat”
  • Extreme increase or decrease in diet
  • Extreme anxiety about body image
  • Restricting certain food or food groups to lower insulin dosages
  • Avoids eating with family or in public
  • Discomfort testing/injecting in front of others
  • Overly strict food rules
  • Preoccupation with food, weight and/or calories
  • Excessive and/or rigid exercise
  • Increase in sleep pattern
  • Withdrawal from friends and/or family activities
  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • Infrequently filled prescriptions


  • A1c of 9.0 or higher on a continuous basis
  • A1c inconsistent with meter readings
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Constant bouts of nausea and/or vomiting
  • Persistent thirst and frequent urination
  • Multiple DKA or near DKA episodes
  • Low sodium and/or potassium
  • Frequent bladder and/or yeast infections
  • Irregular or lack of menstruation
  • Deteriorating or blurry vision
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Dry hair and skin


The body is remarkably durable and also people with diabulimia often can operate with much higher blood sugar level. Hence, the major repercussions of diabulimia or ED-DMT1 are usually associated with prolonged elevated blood sugar. These complications can be extreme as well as irreparable, so proper treatment and also early discovery are vital.
Individuals with weight related insulin limitation were 3.2 times more likely to die over an 11-year research study duration, as well as to die an average of 13 years more youthful than those who really did not restrict insulin. It is incredibly vital to recognize the many ways that eating disorders affect an individual with diabetic issues.

Short-term consequences:

  • Slow wound healing – high blood sugar causes poor circulation, decreases the function of red and white blood cells, and damages small blood vessels; all of which delay wound healing and can sometimes progress into an ulcer in a person with diabetes.
  • Staph and other bacterial infections – high blood sugar causes the body to produce certain enzymes and hormones that negatively affect the immune system and reduce the body’s defense against infection. This risk of infection plus slowed healing heighten a person’s chance of developing gangrene, sepsis or a bone infection.
  • Yeast infections – excess sugar allows the overgrowth of yeast, often in the vaginal area.
  • Muscle atrophy – without insulin, the body cannot utilize food and cells begin to starve so the body begins to break down muscle for fuel.
  • Menstrual disruption – without sufficient nutrition, a woman’s estrogen levels fall which can keep menstruation from starting, or cause it to become irregular or stop completely; also when a woman’s body senses starvation it will cease reproduction to conserve energy.
  • Severe dehydration – insulin deficiency puts the body into a state of starvation causing it to break down tissues to create ketones to use as fuel; in an attempt to expel the ketones in the urine the body ends up dispelling too much fluid.
  • Electrolyte imbalance – as the kidneys extract sugar and ketones to expel with urine, they also extract sodium and potassium which can lead to an extreme electrolyte balance, especially when combined with vomiting which often occurs with high ketone levels.
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis – people with type 1 diabetes will develop dangerous levels of ketones faster than others because the body needs insulin to transport ketones from the bloodstream into cells; without insulin, the ketones build up in the bloodstream faster than the kidneys can remove them causing the blood to become acidic. Not only does the acidic blood damage blood vessels, nerves and organs, but even a minor alteration in a person’s blood pH can cause organ systems to shut down resulting in coma and sometimes death.

Long-term consequences:

High blood glucose causes blood to become like sandpaper scraping and damaging blood vessel walls. In addition, blood that is acidic from ketones can cause vessel damage. The consequences of this damage are often seen in the eyes where tiny vessels begin to leak into the eyeball.

  • Retinopathy – small black spots or “floaters” disrupting a person’s vision; the bleeding may be stopped with treatment, but persistent or recurrent retinopathy can eventually lead to blindness.
  • Macular Edema – swelling of the eye ball from excess fluid; if untreated it can eventually cause permanent damage to the eye.

Nerve fibers are particularly vulnerable to prolonged periods of high blood sugar. Many factors can damage the small nerves in the body including reduction in oxygen supply; thick, sticky blood that has difficulty getting to the small capillaries that feed the nerves; and inflammation of the nerves.

  • Peripheral Neuropathy – stabbing/burning/tingling pain, weakness or numbness in the hands, feet, legs and/or arms.
  • Gastroparesis – slowed stomach emptying from damaged nerves preventing proper digestion and causing stomach pain, nausea and vomiting.
  • Vasovagal Syncope – malfunction of the nervous system in response to stress or position change causing a sudden drop in blood pressure and heart rate and sometimes fainting.
  • Chronic diarrhea or constipation – when nerves that control the intestines and colon are damaged, a person may experience abnormal fluid absorption or slowed motility.

Other organ damage.

  • Kidney disease – High blood sugars make the kidneys work excessively hard causing damage to the kidneys filtering system. Kidneys begin leaking protein into urine and lose their ability to remove waste products and excess fluid allowing waste and fluid to build up in the body; it can eventually lead to kidney failure requiring frequent dialysis or kidney transplant.
  • Liver disease – Although the specific mechanism is not well understood, we know that insulin deficiency results in non-alcoholic fatter liver – too much fat accumulated in the liver coupled with inflammation; in severe cases it can progress to cirrhosis and liver failure.
  • Heart disease – hardening and narrowing of the arteries from high cholesterol.

Many of the above consequences can become fatal – sometimes over time such as kidney or heart disease and sometimes very quickly such as diabetic ketoacidosis.

  • Coma
  • Stroke
  • Death

Without insulin, the body cannot utilize anything eaten putting the body into a state of malnutrition or starvation. As a result, in addition to the above complications a person with diabulimia can also incur the same consequences as someone with anorexia nervosa. And if a person engages in other forms of purging beyond insulin restriction, they can develop consequences associated with bulimia nervosa.