Thousands of women with type 1 diabetes struggle with an eating disorder, and the problem seems to be on the rise. Still, “diabulimia” is difficult to treat. The catch-22 is that those with type 1 are taught to manage their condition by watching what they eat and their weight. But this constant attention to reading food labels and monitoring weight can feed into an eating disorder.
In addition, Dr. Goebel-Fabbri says treatment guidelines have been created based on expert clinical experience, but no large-scale research has examined best practices and treatment effectiveness for this population.
That said, women with type 1 can and do recover from this disorder. “I have worked with many women with type 1 diabetes and eating disorders. I wish I could say that they all recovered – some did, but many did not. When I asked my patients what motivated them to recover, the majority said, “I just got sick and tired of being sick and tired,” says Dr. Goebel-Fabbri.