Trying to stop a diabetic binge is like trying to keep your hand on a hot stove—it’s tough and against your natural instinct. Our body’s natural instinct is to withdraw the hand when we feel the heat; your body’s natural instinct, when your blood sugar is low, is to eat. Therefore, if your blood sugars remain low even after you eat, the brain gets hijacked.
Even when you know you have counteracted the hypoglycemic reaction (with food, a glucose tablet, or juice, for example), it’s hard to make yourself stop eating. Difficulty stopping happens because your brain is still receiving that “hungry” message. Your body and mind remain on high alert while raising blood glucose levels, pushing you to eat in the same way that the brain tells the hand to pull away from the hot stove.
Diabetic Binge Prevention
The first way to reduce diabetic binge eating and hypoglycemic reactions is to maintain well-controlled blood glucose levels. The more your blood glucose levels fluctuate, the greater the impact reactions will have on the body’s natural process to keep it fueled—and the higher the risk of hypoglycemia.
To prevent binge eating during a hypoglycemic reaction, you should realize what a difficult task this is, and that willpower will be a major part of the equation. There will most likely be times that one will end up binging, despite having a strong will.
You need to have a plan for when it occurs. For example, take care of your reaction as you normally would, then if you feel yourself wanting to eat more, have a small carbohydrate snack that you can follow-up with and eat slowly. Be creative and individualize it for your lifestyle.
There are two ways to handle the binge:
- Binge Prevention Techniques can be used to suppress the false messages of hunger that are caused by low blood sugars.
- Harm Reduction allows the binge to occur but utilizes carbohydrate counting and matching insulin to maintain normal blood sugars after the binge and reaction subside.
Diabetic binging is a physical response to the brain when it receives conflicting information about the status of the stomach and the need to eat. Messages of hunger hijack the human brain as long as your blood glucose levels remain low.
For Additional 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.