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Diabulimia Symptoms & Warning Signs

Diabulimia is not an official eating disorder diagnosis or a medically recognized term. It is a descriptive term used widely in popular culture for an observed behavior.

While the term itself is inaccurate, "diabulimia" underscores a real and very serious pattern of disordered eating.

Clinical signs and symptoms of diabulimia for type 1 diabetics include:

  • Weight loss
  • Growth failure in adolescents
  • Poor blood-glucose control (especially if the individual had good control previously)
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Ketonuria
  • Recurrent episodes of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA); marked by polydipsia (excessive thirst), polyuria (frequent urination) and/or polyphagia (increased hunger)
  • Severe recurrent episodes of hypoglycemia
  • Higher than usual hemoglobin A1c levels (despite good blood sugar records, which may be falsified by the individual)
  • Microvascular disease affecting the eyes, kidneys and heart
  • Peripheral neuropathy (weakness, numbness and/or pain in hands and feet)
  • Secrecy, abnormal behaviors or rituals around insulin administration
  • Disordered eating, including restriction, binge eating, refusal to eat in the presence of others, obsession with weight, body image, exercise and/or food
  • Depressed mood, social withdrawal and/or deterioration of school or work performance.

Seek help immediately if you see symptoms of diabulimia

Manipulating insulin can be life-threatening for type 1 diabetics. When one seeks treatment for diabulimia, medical stabilization will be a priority, followed by the care of a multidisciplinary team experienced in the treatment and management of diabulimia.

If you are seeking help for diabulimia, please call us at 877-825-8584 to speak with one of our Masters-level clinicians. 

At our eating disorder treatment center, we can help you take immediate steps towards a full recovery from diabulimia.

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