Hypoglycemic reactions cause many problems for people with diabetes. It’s important to take 3-4 glucose tablet, or juice drink to counteract the hypoglycemia. However, many “overcorrect” for the low blood glucose—and start to binge.
What Is a Diabetic Binge?
It is when you continue to eat after eating the appropriate grams of carbohydrates, has been ingested to handle the hypoglycemic reaction. If you keep eating after this point, it’s called a diabetic binge. When this happens, lot’s of people living with diabetes become angry and come down on themselves. They feel as though they were weak and may say things to themselves like, “How stupid am I!” or “This is so embarrassing! I hope no one notices! Why can’t I control myself?” For a long time, I used to feel that way if I binged. I even for a while thought I had an eating disorder.
The Diabetic Binge is not an Eating Disorder
To fully understand why this is such an important issue for people with diabetes, you’ll need to move away from how society views binges. This is because the majority of individuals living with diabetes don’t binge due to poor self-control or need to cope with life problems during a hypoglycemic reaction. For people with bulimia, food is used as a coping mechanism to reduce stress and negative emotions in much the same way that alcoholics use alcohol.
Don’t Feel Guilty
A hypoglycemic reaction will send the message to the brain that it is time to eat, and the hunger process starts. The reason our appetite continues after giving enough carbs to take care of a reaction is that our fat tissues won’t tell the brain that it is time to stop eating till our blood sugars return to normal.
- During this process, the majority of people with diabetes feel like they are starving and fear that they will go into a hypoglycemic coma. In many ways, that is what the body is telling the brain.
- People with diabetes tend to binge during this period. The brain is tricked into thinking it needs to eat more to respond to the low blood glucose level. Furthermore, it’s hard to think properly during this period (as you probably know!),
- Low blood glucose levels hijack the brain, our survival instincts kick in, and we start to binge—and that’s not your fault.
For Binge Prevention & Harm Reduction Techniques check out my Article, Unraveling The Diabetic Binge. http://diabetictalks.com/featured-binge-article.html
Eliot LeBow, LCSW, CDE, is a diabetes-focused psychotherapist. His private practice, located in New York City and is also available via Skype. LeBow, who has been living with type 1 diabetes since 1977, treats the many diverse cognitive, behavioral, and emotional needs of people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
All the advice included in this blog is therapeutic in nature and should not be considered medical advice. Before making any changes to your diabetes maintenance program, please consult with your primary physician or endocrinologist.