Diabetes and Eating Disorders
“When people with type 1 diabetes discover they can lose weight by not taking insulin, they may skip it so they can eat anything they want and not gain weight,” says Marcia Meier, registered nurse and certified diabetes educator at International Diabetes Center at Park Nicollet. “Those who manipulate insulin range from teens to 50-year-olds.”
People with type 1 diabetes who manipulate insulin often have traits common to those with eating disorders, such as bingeing, purging and exercising excessively. They also may have a perfectionist attitude, an intense desire to please others, low self-esteem and mood disorders, such as anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorders.
Although eating disorders, by themselves, can lead to serious health conditions and premature death, people with this dual diagnosis can end up with severe complications earlier than those with diabetes alone. An extremely dangerous short-term complication from withholding insulin is diabetic ketoacidosis, which occurs when blood sugar gets very high, causing ketones, or acids, to build up in the blood. If left untreated, this condition can lead to a diabetic coma or death.