Managing Diabetes and an Eating Disorder
By: Sina Teskey, R.D., L.D., The Emily Program
Having a medical condition such as diabetes can be complicated with an eating disorder. Due to the complexity of this type of situation, The Emily Program dietitians help clients navigate and plan to mitigate problems.
There are two factors that can overwhelm people who struggle with diabetes and eating disorders. For one, it can become compensatory to overdose insulin as a means of “purging.” In addition, it can hard to manage the diabetic diet itself because it has many guidelines that may feel like food rules to someone working on neutralizing food judgments.
So, what can you do if you have diabetes and an eating disorder?
- First, I would recommend checking your blood sugars regularly throughout the day to get an idea of when you are high or low.
- Second, track your food intake for a few days along with your blood sugars to bring to your next dietitian appointment.
- Next, work with your dietitian to understand what foods contain carbohydrates since these are the foods that make your blood sugars higher (Not all food makes our blood sugars increase).
- Lastly, as you are farther into managing your eating disorder and diabetes, I recommend setting a goal with your dietitian on what is a good carb guideline for you based on your food goals.
Here is a brief on blood sugars and food.
- Foods such as grains, fruits, milks, starchy vegetables, and desserts are the main sources of carbohydrates. These are the foods that will increase our blood sugar.
- Non-starchy vegetables, meats, and fats will not significantly increase your blood sugar unless it has a carbohydrate added.
- If it is not triggering to look at a food label you can see how many total carbohydrates are in a food and know how many “carb choices” this food would count for (or how much it may increase your blood sugars).
- Every 15 grams of Total Carbohydrate is one carbohydrate choice.
- Just like all things with nutrition, moderation is key. No foods are off limits and avoiding carbs can cause a low blood sugar, which can be very dangerous.
- Eat carbohydrates at each meal and a little at snacks along with protein and fiber to allow our bodies to maintain good blood sugar levels.
Talk to your treatment team if you have questions about managing your diabetes and eating disorder. They have the expertise to guide you to path that will work best for you and your situation.