Can Men Have Eating Disorders?
Eating disorders continue to be shrouded in stigma; though we’ve made progress in breaking down barriers and obliterating taboos, the fact remains that many people feel uncomfortable talking about this topic. Because of this, much of what people believe about eating disorders is clouded by myth and misinformation. Case in point: There are still many individuals who associate eating disorders with females, as though men cannot ever be afflicted by these serious disorders.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. Fact: Eating disorders are equal opportunity offenders; they don’t care about your age or your race or your sexual orientation, and they certainly don’t care about your gender.
Another fact: Struggling with an eating disorder does not make you any less of a man, any more than a struggle with cancer, diabetes, or depression makes you less of a man. It is a clinical illness, not a choice you’ve made—but the good news in all of this is that male eating disorders can be treated, ultimately leading to lifelong recovery.
How Prevalent are Male Eating Disorders?
Still, you might wonder: Just how common are male eating disorders?
Research suggests that, of the individuals who have either anorexia or bulimia, roughly 25 percent are male; though that is not quite equitable with women, it does represent a sizable quarter of the overall population. And with binge eating disorders, the percentage of males is even higher—some 36 percent.
Overall, some 10 million American men will be diagnosed with an eating disorder at some point over the course of their life.
Are You Struggling with an Eating Disorder?
Since male eating disorders are so common, it is important for males to be aware of some of the signs and symptoms of eating disorders, and to evaluate their own need for possible diagnosis or intervention.
There are several eating disorder warning signs to be aware of. A few of them include:
- You’re habitually dieting, even if you’re also chronically underweight.
- Your weight is constantly fluctuating.
- You obsess over things like your caloric intake or the fat content in your foods.
- You exercise in excess, feeling extreme guilt and anxiety if you miss a workout session.
- You engage in secretive or ritualistic eating behaviors—hiding food, eating alone, etc.
- You experience depression and an overall sense of aimlessness or lethargy.
- You become isolated and withdrawn, avoiding social functions—especially ones where food is present.
- You alternate between overeating and fasting.
Is There Help for Eating Disorder Recovery?
If you identify any of those warning signs within yourself, that is not necessarily cause for alarm, but it is ample reason to seek evaluation from a physician or to take an eating disorder screening. Learn more about eating disorders and get a better sense of what you might be struggling with.
If you are diagnosed with an eating disorder, don’t despair. Hope and healing are possible, but do not seek them on your own. You’ll need to enlist the encouragement and support of your loved ones. You’ll also need to enlist professional, medical care.
Seeking therapy or nutritional guidance for eating disorders may sound scary, but it is the best and often the only way to build a foundation for lifelong recovery. So don’t delay. Get diagnosed, and, if necessary, get treated. Embrace recovery today.
This post was written by our sponsors, Castlewood Treatment Center.