Potential Causes of ED-DMT1

A person living with Type 1 diabetes is 2.5 times more likely to develop an eating disorder than someone with a fabulous pancreas.

Why do people living with T1D have an increased risk of developing an Eating Disorder?

  • Need for ongoing close monitoring of nutrition, exercise, blood glucose levels and insulin dosages leads to obsessive thinking and unhealthy preoccupation with food and weight.
  • Fear of going low, eating to prevent or correct, then feeling guilty about eating and fear that eating will lead to weight gain.
  • Role of parents or others (diabetes police) in managing diabetes (control).
  • Need for control (over food and/or weight when one can't control emotions or external situations).
  • Use as a coping mechanism (emotional disassociation).
  • Psychological issues associated with diagnosis and management of long-term illness (anger at diabetes).
  • Onset of diabetes is often associated with weight loss that a person newly diagnosed does not want to give up.
  • Routine focus on weight at every doctor visit.

 

The Eating Disorder “Thought Process” can be Exacerbated with T1D Management:

  • Pressure of perfect BG readings = perfect body, perfect weight, perfect blood sugars, approval from MD, family and educators.
  • High focus on numbers = obsession on weight, A1C, blood sugars, minutes of exercise, calories, grams of carbohydrate.
  • High focus on food = “good” and “bad” foods, fear of eating anything sweet or “bad” in front of others.
  • Hypoglycemia (low BGs) may trigger bingeing.