Diabetes & Eating Disorders

Women’s health issues have always been an interest of mine & since my diabetes diagnosis, diabetes education is a close tie for 1st place. Discovering a topic that covers both really gets me excited!

Think about this fact: Women with Type 1 diabetes are more than twice as likely to develop an eating disorder than age-matched women without diabetes. As a type 1 myself this makes total sense to me but I don’t think information is public knowledge. In my opinion, it should be!

Below is information from the American Diabetes Association:

Eating Disorders

Research suggests that eating disorders are probably more common among women with diabetes than women who do not have diabetes.

Bulimia is the most common eating disorder in women with type 1 diabetes. Among women with type 2 diabetes, binge eating is more common.

Because both diabetes and eating disorders involve attention to body states, weight management, and control of food, some people develop a pattern in which they use the disease to justify or camouflage the disorder. Because the complications of diabetes and eating disorders can be serious or even fatal, responsible, healthy behavior is essential.

Eating disorders are illnesses with a biological basis modified and influenced by emotional and cultural factors. The stigma associated with eating disorders has long kept individuals suffering in silence, inhibited funding for crucial research, and created barriers to treatment. Because of insufficient information, the public and professionals fail to recognize the dangerous consequences of eating disorders. While eating disorders are serious, potentially life threatening illnesses, there is help available and recovery is possible.

Types of Eating Disorders

  • Anorexia (or anorexia nervosa) is an eating disorder centered around an obsessive fear of weight gain. Anorexia involves self-starvation and excessive weight loss. Although anorexia is a psychological disorder, the physical consequences are serious and sometimes life-threatening.

  • Bulimia is characterized by recurrent binge eating (the rapid controlled consumption of large amounts of food). Purging may occur with self-induced vomiting, laxatives, diuretics, insulin omission or reduction, fasting, severe diets, or vigorous exercise.

  • Binge Eating Disorder (also known as Compulsive Overeating) is characterized primarily by periods of uncontrolled, impulsive, or continuous eating beyond the point of feeling comfortably full. While there is no purging, there may be sporadic fasts or repetitive diets and often feelings of shame or self-hatred after a binge.

  • Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) is a range of other disordered eating patterns that doesn’t fit the other specific types. These conditions are still serious, and intervention and attention are necessary. EDNOS, or other types of eating disorders, may include:

    • Eating problems or disordered eating with some, but not all, of the characteristics of an eating disorder; for example, people who severely restrict food intake, but who do not meet the full criteria for anorexia nervosa.

    • Chewing food and spitting it out (without swallowing).

    • Bingeing and purging irregularly, such as at times of increased stress.

Since my teenage years, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with food. Between the ages of 16-18 I struggled a lot with my body image. I’ve never been a teeny tiny girl and that fact really became apparent during that time frame. In order to force my body to be ‘thin’ I limited my food intake. I skipped breakfast. I ate a snack size bag of chips or pretzels for lunch & then had a regular meal at dinner time. After some time of doing this I slightly resembled a bobble head doll. But what was important to me at the time was that I wore a 2 piece bathing suit (for the 1st time) the summer I turned 16.

Now in my 20’s I struggle again with my body image but on a much different level & with Type 1 diabetes as a factor. I’m carrying around extra weight due to the amount of insulin that I take. I’m on a carousal of needing to take insulin to live, having a harder time loosing weight put on by insulin, & having to take more insulin due to insulin resistance (from carrying extra weight). There are certainly things that I can do to improve the situation (smarter food choices, more often & to be more active). I would be lying if I didn’t say my diabetes can be discouraging since sometimes it feels like just another hurtle to jump. The only thing I can do is make the best of the cards I’ve been dealt & to make the best decisions for myself & my health. Like anything, it’s a work in progress & sometimes I just have a hard time. I know that diabetes will only get the best of my if I allow it to.

Love, health & happiness,

Jessica Lynn

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