Busting the Myths About Men and Eating Disorders

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Men Also Struggle with Eating Disorders

Whenever you hear people talking about eating disorders, it’s often geared towards teenage girls, women in the modeling world, or just women in general. However, women aren’t the only faces of eating disorders – eating disorders aren’t a gender-specific problem. Men also suffer from binge eating, bulimia and anorexia, albeit usually silently. Eating disorders among men are often overlooked or not treated. Before we get into the reason why they go untreated, let’s talk about the types of eating disorders that commonly affect men – you may recognize these symptoms in yourself.

Anorexia in Males

People who suffer with anorexia simply refuse to eat. Refusal to maintain a proper body weight, intense fear of gaining weight, and denial of the seriousness of low body weight are all telltale signs that someone is suffering from anorexia. In 1995, there was a large U.S. study of adolescents that showed significant numbers of young males experienced problems with weight control behavior. According to the study, 2%-3% of males dieted all the time or more than 10 times per year. 5%-14% of males deliberately vomited after eating and 12%-21% had a history of binge eating. In 2001, the American Journal of Psychiatry released a study showing that there were many psychological similarities between men and women with eating disorders.

Male Bulimia

Another eating disorder that affects men is bulimia nervosa. Bulimia is the eating disorder where you eat an extraordinary amount of food, and then utilize a “purging” process to purge it immediately. Typically, in order to purge, people will take laxatives or purposely cause themselves to vomit. Bulimia is very dangerous because it can cause an electrolyte imbalance, which can lead to cardiac arrhythmia, cardiac arrest, and even death. As stated earlier, studies show that between 5 and 14 percent of males vomit after eating, and 20 years later that number is most likely higher than previously thought.

Societal views on eating disorders have made it difficult for men to get the proper help they need. In our modern society, we are constantly bombarded by images of what our bodies “should” look like or what we should perceive as attractive or unattractive. As much as this affects women, the same can be said for men. However, what causes men to hide the problem of eating disorders is another cultural stigma. Men are viewed as “less emotional,” and thus stigmatized into thinking that if they share their problems with anorexia and bulimia, which can be derived from emotions, they’ll be seen as “less manly.”

As with most other mental disorders, if you are suffering from an eating disorder, it’s often in conjunction with another mental disorder, such as depression. As a man, taking a stand to help with your food struggles and become mentally healthy is one of the manliest things you can do. If you’re suffering from anorexia, bulimia, or if you think you could be, seek out help. We can help you at the Holiner Group. It can mean the difference between life and death – your life.

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