What is diabulimia?
Diabulimia is a non-clinical term describing the diagnosis of an eating disorder in an individual with type 1 diabetes. Among healthcare professionals, this diagnosis is sometimes referred to as ED-DMT1.
Individuals suffering from diabulimia intentionally misuse insulin for weight control, including:
- Decreasing the prescribed dose of insulin
- Omitting insulin entirely
- Delaying the appropriate dose
- Or, manipulating the insulin itself to render it inactive.
Health risks of diabulimia can include hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels) and glucose excretion in the urine, which causes weight loss. In a sense, calories are “purged” this way, hence the term diabulimia.
Diagnosis among type 1 diabetics can be difficult
A person with diabetes who also suffers from an eating disorder may not be diagnosed with bulimia specifically or have any other symptoms of bulimia (binge eating, self-induced vomiting, etc.), while others may only withhold insulin after they have binged as a method of purging.
And, people with diabulimia may exhibit any number of eating disorder behaviors — or they may only manipulate their insulin and otherwise have normal eating patterns.
Diabulimia is not an official eating disorder diagnosis or a medically recognized term. It is a descriptive term for an observed behavior and is used widely in popular culture. While the term itself is inaccurate, it underscores a real and very serious pattern of disordered eating.
Treatment for type 1 diabetics exhibiting diabulimia behavior
There are serious and potentially lethal consequences if someone with type 1 diabetes is manipulating insulin as a method of weight control. If you or you someone you know is exhibiting diabulimia symptoms, please contact us immediately at 877-825-8584.
The Eating Recovery Center is the nation's only health care system dedicated to the treatment of diabulimia at all levels of care. The diabulimia treatment center includes inpatient treatment, residential treatment, partial hospitalization treatment and intensive outpatient treatment.