The Truth About Diabulimia: What You Need to Know


Diabulimia is a serious and often deadly disorder that affects people with diabetes. It is characterized by the deliberate omission of insulin from the diabetic’s regimen in order to lose weight. Diabulimia can cause long-term health problems, including blindness, kidney failure, and even death.

If you know someone who is suffering from diabulimia, it is important to understand what you can do to help them. In this blog post, we will discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatment of diabulimia. We will also provide advice on how friends and family members can support loved ones who are struggling with this disorder.

What Is Diabulimia? Diabulimia

Diabulimia refers to a form of eating disorder in someone with diabetes, usually type 1 diabetes, in which the individual restricts insulin as a method of weight reduction. Medical professionals sometimes use ED-DMT1, an abbreviation for Eating Disorder-Diabetes Mellitus Type 1 which stands for any sort of eating problem associated with type 1 diabetes.

Diabetes is a high-risk condition for developing an eating problem because of the emphasis on food, labels, statistics (weight, blood glucose ), and control, as well as the many disruptions that occur in a person’s metabolic system. As a result, diabulimia or ED-DMT1 can develop at any age or after a diabetes diagnosis at any time. Diabulimia can also be classified as Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder (OSFED).

Symptoms  Diabulimia's symptoms

Its emotional and behavioral signs may include:

  • High Ignorance Of diabetes management
  • Fear of low blood sugars
  • Fear of getting fat and diabetic
  • The constant thought of one’s body image
  • Limiting certain meals or food groups to lower insulin dosages
  • Family or public eating is avoided
  • Extremely rigorous food regulations
  • Excessively or harshly vigorous exercise
  • Sleep pattern gradually changes.
  • Family and/or social connections are being reduced.
  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Occasionally supplied medications

Its physical signs may include:

  • Weight loss that is unexplained
  • Vomiting and frequent nausea
  • Thirst is persistent and frequent urination occurs.
  • Low salt and/or potassium levels
  • Bladder and/or yeast infections are common.
  • Menstruation is absent or irregular.
  • Your vision is getting worse or fuzzy.
  • Drowsiness or sluggishness
  • Skin and hair that is dry

These are some examples of both physical and emotional symptoms of Diabulimia.


causes of diabulimia

Some of the most common potential causes include:

  • Diabetes burnout: People with diabetes may find it difficult to manage diabetes. It seems a time-consuming task, and some people may become “burned out”. Hence, they may turn to food restriction as a way of coping with this stress.
  • A history of dieting: People who have a history of dieting are more likely to develop diabulimia. They may be more likely to view food and weight in a negative light and may be more likely to restrict their eating in order to lose weight.
  • A family history of eating disorders: People who have a family member with an eating disorder are at greater risk of developing diabulimia. This may be due to genetic factors, or because they learn unhealthy behaviors from their family.
  • A history of trauma: Traumatic experiences, such as sexual abuse or other forms of violence, increase the risk of developing diabulimia. People who have experienced trauma develop negative feelings about their bodies and may turn to food restriction as a way of coping with these feelings.
  • Perfectionism: People who are perfectionists see their weight and body shape in a negative light, and may strive to achieve an unrealistic level of thinness.
  • Low self-esteem: People with low self-esteem view their weight and body shape as a reflection of their worth, and may believe that losing weight will make them more worthy or acceptable.
  • Peer pressure: People who feel pressure from their peers to be thin may be more likely to develop diabulimia. They may view being thin as a way of being accepted and may believe that losing weight will make them more attractive.
  • Cultural influences: Popular culture often presents an idealized view of thinness, which leads people to believe that they need to be thin in order to be successful. This can particularly affect young women, who may develop diabulimia in an attempt to meet these unrealistic standards.
  • Wanting a sense of control: Some people develop diabulimia as a way of regaining a sense of control over their lives. This is because food restriction can be a way of exerting power and control when other areas of life feel out of control.

Consequences  Consequences

The body’s resilience is remarkable, and individuals who suffer from diabulimia can frequently function with significantly higher blood sugar levels than would be considered healthy. As a result, the major effects of diabulimia or ED-DMT1 are generally linked to diabetes mellitus. These issues might be serious and irreversible, therefore early detection and efficient therapy are vital.

Short-Term Consequences

  • Wounds take longer to heal, and there is an increased risk of infection. Poor circulation decreased red and white blood cell production, as well as damage to tiny blood vessels, contributes to slower wound healing in persons with diabetes.
  • High blood sugar levels, particularly in the hands and feet, create certain enzymes and hormones that harm the immune system and decrease resistance to infection. This risk of illness, as well as slowed recovery time, adds to a person’s chance of developing gangrene, sepsis, or bone disease.
  • Excess sugar encourages the growth of yeast, which is especially common in women’s vaginas.
  • Insulin shortage causes muscle wastage by preventing the bodily cells from utilizing food, which results in starvation. The body begins to break down muscle for energy as a result of insulin deprivation.
  • Ovulation is interrupted if a woman’s estrogen levels fall as a result of insufficient nutrition, causing menstruation to be delayed or stopped. Additionally, when a woman’s body senses hunger, it will stop reproducing to save energy.
  • Electrolyte imbalances are common in individuals who have diabetes as the kidneys remove sugar and ketones in order to eliminate with urine, but they also take sodium and potassium out of the equation, causing a significant electrolyte imbalance, especially when combined with vomiting.
  • People with type 1 diabetes have a shorter time to reach dangerous ketone levels than people with other types of diabetes because the body needs insulin to move ketones from the circulation into cells; without insulin, ketones build up in the circulation faster than the kidneys can eliminate them, causing blood acidity.
  • Acidity in the blood destroys blood vessels, nerves, and organs; a minor change in blood pH can even induce organ systems to shut down, resulting in coma and occasionally death.

Long-Term Consequences 

There exist long-term consequences as well. They are as follows:

Defect In Vision

Blood becomes rough and scratchy when blood sugar levels are too high. Blood vessels also get damaged by excessively high blood glucose, which is like sandpaper scraping and tearing apart vessel walls. Furthermore, ketones in the blood can induce vessel damage, resulting in leaks into the eyes’ tiny capillaries.

  • Retinopathy – Retinopathy can be treated, and the bleeding may be stopped with therapy if it is minor. However, persistent or recurrent retinopathy might eventually lead to blindness despite treatment.
  • Macular Edema – Excess fluid in the eyeball can cause a condition called ocular edema. If left untreated, this condition might eventually result in irreversible damage to the eye.

Issues In Nerve Fibres

Nerve fibers are particularly susceptible to high blood sugar for extended periods of time. Many factors can harm the tiny nerves in the body, including a lack of oxygen supply; blood that is thick and sticky and has trouble reaching the small capillaries that feed the nerves; and nerve inflammation.

  • Peripheral Neuropathy –Symptoms of this syndrome include numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, legs, and/or arms.
  • Gastroparesis – A damaged disc can create stomach blockage, causing an impediment to effective digestion and producing stomach discomfort, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Vasovagal Syncope – Mild dizziness and light-headedness can occur when the brain’s wiring becomes misaligned due to stress or a change in posture, causing a rapid drop in blood pressure and heart rate and occasionally fainting.
  • Chronic diarrhea or constipation – Excess fluid ingestion may cause the body to retain water, causing person discomfort, especially when nerves that control the intestines and colon are damaged.

Other Organ Damage

  • Kidney disease – High blood sugar, on the other hand, makes the kidneys work tremendously hard, damaging their filtering mechanism. The kidneys begin leaking protein into urine as they lose their ability to remove waste products and surplus fluid; this allows waste and fluid to accumulate in the body, culminating in kidney failure requiring frequent dialysis or a kidney transplant.
  • Liver disease – Although the precise mechanism is unknown, we know that insulin deficiency causes non-alcoholic fatty liver – too much fat accumulation in the liver, accompanied by inflammation. In severe situations, it may lead to cirrhosis and liver failure.
  • Heart disease – High cholesterol can contribute to dangerous blockages in the arteries.

Many of the above consequences can be deadly – for example, kidney or heart disease and diabetic ketoacidosis may develop over time, and hyperosmolar coma can kill a person within hours.

The body cannot use anything consumed when there is no insulin, causing the person to fall into a condition of starvation or malnutrition. As a consequence, in addition to the previously mentioned issues, someone with diabulimia may suffer from the same risks as an anorexia nervosa sufferer. Furthermore, if an individual purges in addition to restricting their insulin intake using other forms of purging, they can get problems linked with bulimia nervosa.

Professional Treatment

There are various professional treatment options available for diabulimia. These include:

Therapies  diabulimia therapies

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy : (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that can help people change their negative thinking and behavior patterns. CBT has been shown to be effective in treating diabulimia and other eating disorders.
  • Psychotherapy: This is a key treatment for diabulimia, as it can help individuals understand and address the underlying psychological causes of their disorder. This therapy involves one-on-one sessions with a therapist and can help people learn new coping skills and thought patterns.
  • Interpersonal Therapy: Another type of therapy that can be used is called Interpersonal Therapy (IPT). IPT focuses on the individual’s relationships and how they may be impacting their diabulimia. This therapy can help the individual learn how to communicate better and develop healthier relationships. This therapy includes both group and individual sessions. IPT works best when it is combined with other treatments, such as CBT or nutritional counseling.
  • Insulin Therapy: For diabetics with diabulimia, it is essential to receive proper insulin therapy in order to maintain blood sugar control. It helps manage diabulimia by lessening the urge to binge and purge. Insulin therapy works to stabilize blood sugar levels and can help prevent diabulimia-related complications. It includes taking insulin as prescribed and checking blood sugar levels regularly. The process includes working with a diabetes educator to create an insulin plan.
  • Family-Based Treatment: Last, but not least, is Family-Based Treatment (FBT). FBT is exactly what it sounds like – therapy that involves the family. This type of therapy can help educate the family about diabulimia and how to best support their loved one suffering from the disorder. FBT works by helping the family develop realistic expectations and goals, as well as effective communication and problem-solving skills.

Other Options

  • Medication: In some cases, medication may be necessary in order to help people manage their diabetes. Medications can help to lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
  • Hospitalization: In severe cases, people may need to be hospitalized in order to stabilize their condition and ensure that they are receiving proper nutrition and medical care. Hospitalization can also provide a safe environment where those suffering from diabulimia can receive intensive treatment for their disorder.
  • Diabetes Education: This is an important part of treatment for diabulimia, as it can help sufferers manage their diabetes effectively. This education may be provided by a certified diabetes educator, nurse, or dietitian.
  • Nutritional counseling: This is an important part of treatment for diabulimia. A registered dietitian can help you develop a healthy eating plan that meets your needs. Diabetes education is also important for people with diabulimia. A certified diabetes educator can teach you how to manage your diabetes and make healthy choices about food and exercise.

These are just some of the professional treatment options available for diabulimia. If you or someone you know is struggling with this disorder, please seek help from a qualified mental health professional.

Self Care Strategies

There are many self-care strategies that can help someone recover from diabulimia. Some examples include:

Eat Regular And Balanced Meals Throughout The Day Self-Care Strategies

When it comes to managing and overcoming diabulimia, eating regular, balanced meals and snacks throughout the day can help immensely. This is because doing so stabilizes blood sugar levels, which in turn helps to stabilize moods and energy levels.

Additionally, getting the proper nutrients from food provides the body with the fuel it needs to function optimally. Finally, eating on a regular schedule helps to reduce cravings for unhealthy foods that can trigger diabulimia bingeing and purging behaviors. All of these factors together can make a big difference in managing diabulimia and helping someone to recover from this disorder.

Plan Ahead For Meals And Snacks

Meal and snack planning can be helpful in managing diabulimia for a few reasons. First, it can help to control blood sugar levels. When people with diabulimia eat regularly spaced meals and snacks that include carbohydrates, their bodies are better able to maintain stable blood sugar levels. This is important because unstable blood sugar levels can trigger diabulimia behaviors such as bingeing and purging.

Another reason why meal and snack planning can be helpful is that it can prevent feelings of deprivation. For people with diabulimia, restricting food intake can lead to intense cravings and feelings of deprivation. Planning ahead for meals and snacks helps to ensure that you’re getting the nutrients your body needs while also preventing these intense cravings.

Finally, meal and snack planning can help to create a sense of structure and routine. For people with diabulimia, having a structure in their day can be helpful in managing the disorder. Planning ahead for meals and snacks helps to create this sense of structure and routine.

Engage In Regular Physical Activity

There are a few things that regular physical activity can do to help manage and overcome diabulimia. First, it can help to regulate blood sugar levels. Diabetics who engage in regular physical activity tend to have better blood sugar control than those who don’t. This is because exercise helps the body to use insulin more effectively.

Second, regular physical activity can help to reduce the chances of developing type II diabetes. diabulimia often leads to type II diabetes, so this is an important benefit of exercise.

Third, exercise can help to improve mood and reduce stress levels. diabulimia sufferers often have high levels of stress and anxiety, which can trigger binges and purges. Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects.

Fourth, exercise can help to increase energy levels. This is important because diabulimia often leads to fatigue and low energy levels.

Finally, regular physical activity can help to prevent weight gain. diabulimia sufferers often worry about gaining weight, but exercise can actually help to maintain a healthy body weight.

Monitor Blood Sugar Levels Regularly

One of the most important aspects of managing diabulimia is monitoring blood sugar levels regularly. This helps to ensure that blood sugar levels remain stable and do not fluctuate too dramatically. When blood sugar levels are stable, it can help to prevent episodes of diabulimia from occurring. Additionally, monitoring blood sugar levels can also help to identify when an episode of diabulimia is beginning, so those appropriate interventions can be put in place. Finally, monitoring blood sugar levels can also help to assess the effectiveness of treatments for diabulimia. By tracking changes in blood sugar levels over time, it is possible to see whether treatments are having the desired effect. In summary, regular monitoring of blood sugar levels is a vital part of managing diabulimia.

Seek Support From Family And Friends

The support of family and friends is crucial for anyone struggling with diabulimia. This disorder can be extremely isolating, as those affected often feel ashamed and embarrassed about their condition. Having a strong support system can help people to feel less alone and more motivated to seek treatment.

Friends and family can provide both emotional and practical support. They can offer words of encouragement and understanding, as well as help to manage day-to-day tasks that may become difficult to handle during periods of illness. Having this level of support can make a big difference in the success of diabulimia treatment. If you are struggling with this disorder, reach out to your loved ones for help – you don’t have to go through this alone.


It’s critical to get help as soon as you or a loved one shows symptoms of diabulimia because it’s a serious and potentially deadly illness. Type 1 diabetes is a complicated condition that may be tough to manage. You are not alone; everyone who has diabetes goes through difficult times and valleys. It’s OK to ask for assistance. Your healthcare providers and loved ones are there to support you.

Diabulimia is a serious and potentially deadly illness. If you or someone you know has diabetes, it is important to get help as soon as possible. Don’t ruin your health because of the complications that come with this illness. Your life is worth more than the stress that comes with this chronic illness. Manage your diabetes and live a full life in spite of it.

Seek support from healthcare professionals to ensure a better quality of life. You can book your first online session at Mantra Care to get help from our mental health care. You may download our free Android or iOS app.

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