The Diabetic Binge
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 when you continue to eat after the appropriate grams of carbohydrates has been ingested to handle the hypoglycemic reaction. If you continue eating after this point, it’s called a diabetic binge. When this happens lot’s people with diabetes become angry and come down on them selves. They feel as though they were weak and may say things to them selves 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 binging. This is because the majority of diabetics don’t binge due to poor self-control or a 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.
The Typical Hunger Cycle
Biologically, when the stomach runs out of food, our blood glucose levels drop, triggering the message to the brain that it is time to eat. At that point, the brain releases neuropeptides, which trigger hunger. When we have eaten enough, our fat tissues tell the brain that it is time to stop eating.
The brain reduces the production of neuropeptides and simultaneously releases an appetite suppressant. Unfortunately, this part of the process is not instantaneous, which allows anyone diabetic or non-diabetic to overeat. If we eat too fast, more food than necessary enters the digestive system prior to the suppression of our appetite, and that results in overeating.
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 because our fat tissues wont tell the brain that it is time to stop eating till our blood sugars return to normal.
Mean while the neuropeptides to continue to be released into the body. Therefore, enforcing the message “I am hungry” while the appetite suppressant fails to release.
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 exactly 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 is difficult to think properly during this period (as you probably know!),
Basically, low blood glucose levels hijack the brain, our survival instincts kick in, and we start to binge—and that’s not your fault. I will talk more on how to stop or reduce the impact of the diabetic binge in my next blog.