Unexpected Eating Disorders Causes and Triggers
Each week, Eating Recovery Center's Chief Marketing Officer Julie Holland, MHS, CEDS, a clinician with almost 30 years experience in the treatment of eating disorders, shares advice and insights with readers of EverydayHealth.com. In the most recent installment of her blog, The Truth About Eating Disorders (which celebrates its two year anniversary this week!), discusses unexpected triggers for eating disorders. Read the full blog post below, or visit EverydayHealth.com.
A major life transition or change, such as puberty or leaving for college, is a common eating disorders trigger. However, eating disorders specialists are taking note of the more unexpected eating disorders causes: manipulating medications and taking a new lifestyle diet too far. For someone with the genes or the temperament that predisposes him or her to an eating disorder, manipulating medication or eliminating food groups for a variety of reasons can trigger dangerous disordered eating behaviors.
Insulin manipulation: Diabetes and eating disorders
Most of what we eat is broken down into glucose, which our cells use for fuel. Insulin allows your cells to either use the glucose for fuel or store it as fat. However, for individuals with type 1 diabetes, their bodies no longer produce insulin. Therefore, they use daily insulin injections to help their bodies absorb glucose.
Some people with diabetes who are also genetically predisposed to eating disorders have been known to use insulin manipulation as a form of weight control. They under-dose, or skip their insulin entirely, which causes sugar to be eliminated from their bodies via urine and never to be stored as fat or used as fuel.
Although not an official medical term, this behavior is often referred to as “diabulimia.” People with bulimia nervosa will purge through vomiting, laxative abuse or over-exercise to compensate for binging, while people with diabetes restrict insulin to achieve similar results. Like all eating disorders patients, these individuals are striving for unrealistic body ideals and a desire to be thin.
This potentially deadly combination strips your body of its nutrients and fuel. People with eating disorders who are abusing insulin can find themselves weak and lethargic and, in extreme circumstances, may fall into a coma as their bodies turn to other tissues for energy. The overwhelming desire for these individuals to be thin negates any of the other medical risks such as kidney or heart failure, blindness or even amputation.
Gluten free and other diet fads: Community supported restrictive diets
We live in a society fascinated with the latest diet fads. From cleanses to anti-carbohydrate or high-protein diets, each one introduces a “new” way to lose weight and live healthfully. Most recently we’ve seen the rise of veganism and gluten free diets. Originally intended as a dietary regimen for people with celiac disease, a gluten free diet can help people who are unable to break down gluten and absorb it, minimize damaging results on their bodies.
For individuals who are genetically predisposed to an eating disorder, cutting major food groups, such as gluten, dairy or meat from their diets when it’s not medically necessary can be a serious eating disorders cause trigger. They start restricting because it’s part of a new diet designed to help them live healthfully and find themselves tumbling down that slippery slope into an eating disorder.
If you or one of your friend’s or loved ones is practicing “diabulimia” and manipulating insulin or is drastically changing his or her diet as a means to lose weight, visit the Eating Recovery Center
website to find resources and treatment options and learn how to approach him or her to express your concerns.