20181008_095656_0001A couple of months ago, I saw a YouTube documentary about the eating disorder diabulimia. I had never heard of this mental illness, so I didn’t know anything about it. But what I learned and what I found out, was shocking. This mental illness is so incredibly dangerous, yet almost no one knows about the existence of it. 

In hope of making conversation and informing people, I wrote this article explaining the eating disorder diabulimia, a mix of diabetes and bulimia. I divided this article in 5 paragraphs, namely:

  • What is diabulimia?
  • Effects of diabulimia
  • Symptoms
  • I think someone around me has diabulimia, what should I do?
  • I think I might have diabulimia, what should I do?


What is diabulimia?

Diabulimia is an eating disorder where, if a patient doesn’t take their insulin, they will lose severe weight. It is a mix between diabetes type 1 and bulimia. This eating disorder is extremely dangerous, as it can, in the worst case, lead to death. Diabetes type 1 means your body doesn’t produce insulin. Insulin turns, shortly said, sugar you receive from foods and drinks, into energy. But people with diabetes type 1 don’t turn that sugar into energy and so, they will lose weight. The sugar that doesn’t get turned into energy will first build itself up in your body, and then gets peed out. This building-up activity can lead to dangerous effects, which you can read after this paragraph. A person with diabulimia has made themselves to believe their body needs to be changed, namely it needs to be thinner and with their diabetes, they can ‘easily’ work on that. But… if they do not take their insulin, their weight loss can become, eventually, fatal. As there has not been done much research on this new eating disorder yet, treatment is possible but not many treatment centers are specialized in it, which can be hard, for patients and staff. Recovery is possible to a certain extent, as researchers haven’t found a cure for diabetes type 1, yet.

Effects of diabulimia

Diabulimia can and will have life-changing effects, if not treated early. The following are a couple of these effects:

  • Amputation – when your feet or arms don’t get enough energy & power to provide you with enough support, they will start to sore and this can get as dangerous as to the point of them being amputated.
  • Nerve damage – when there’s too much sugar built up, your body can experience tingling, numbness, burning or pain that spreads throughout your body. Sometimes, you lose all sense of feeling in affected limbs.
  • Eye/foot/kidney damage


There haven’t been found much causes and/or symptoms, mainly because it is a new disorder and not a lot of research has been done, yet.

But the already found symptoms are:

  1. dehydration
  2. frequent urination
  3. mood changes (i.e. irritability)
  4. (severe) weight loss
  5. extreme hunger
  6. fatigue & weakness
  7. blurred vision
  8. nausea / vomiting
  9. having bladder infections often

I think someone around me has diabulimia, what should I do?

When someone in your surrounding suffered from diabetes type 1 and you think they might have diabulimia, find a calm and comfortable place and the right time. Speak your concern about them, but not in an offensive way. Don’t say: ‘you don’t eat well,’ say: ‘I feel sad when you don’t eat well.’ Someone with an eating disorder can feel attacked very quickly, as it feels horrible being attacked with something as serious as an ED. Often, they do not even want to admit it to themselves, yet, which is understandable.

Therefore, it is important to not give up and let them know you support them, if they wan to go to a therapist or see a doctor. (This, by the way, goes for every mental illness such as borderline personality disorder, anorexia, schizophrenia, etc.) You can’t force anything on them, but you can support them and that might be exactly what they need. Someone who loves them, believes in them and wants to see them healthy, even though they do not love themselves.

I think I might have diabulimia, what should I do?

If you think you are suffering from diabulimia, it is extremely important to get help, fast, even if you think you are in the ‘beginning phase’. See your doctor or go to a hospital and make an appointment. If you find that scary, start by talking to someone you feel comfortable with. Opening up might be terrifying, but diabulimia is extremely dangerous if you do not get the help you need and it is so important to get help.

I hope this article provided you with enough information because this eating disorder is really dangerous. It is important to spread the message and open up about mental health, in order to help other people.

If you are struggling with diabulimia, or with any other mental illness:

believe in you and don’t give up

If you have any suggestions about new articles or tips about dealing with diabulimia/anything related to diabulimia, feel free to tell it below.


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