Eating disorders do not discriminate. They do not care about your age or your gender.
It seems that when the topic of eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa are brought up people tend to imagine starving teenage girls, eating only a handful of nuts each day in order to achieve that dream waif-like body. The reality is that this is a condition that can affect anyone, and the rates of men suffering from eating disorders are steadily rising.
Underlying factors such as low self-esteem and lack of self worth are central to the development of eating disorders, in both men and women. Men are also not immune to negative body image, and may develop unhealthy eating habits as a result of not feeling good enough about their bodies. The statistics on men with eating disorders tends to hover around the 10% mark – that is, around 1 in 10 sufferers are male. However it is estimated that there are likely many more sufferers who are not counted in the statistics as they are unwilling to seek help. This is largely due to the stigma that eating disorders are a ‘feminine’ affliction, which can lead to embarrassment and ultimately, the perpetuation of the disorder.
Signs and symptoms can often go unnoticed, generally because it is more socially acceptable for men to have strange or excessive eating habits, than it is for women. A woman may be quick to be labelled as Anorexic or Bulimic, whereas men might have their unusual eating habits chalked up to stress, or even simple gluttony. They can easily slip under the radar. As well as this, it is not always easy to tell if someone has an eating disorder based on their body type. While sufferers of Anorexia tend to become quite thin, Bulimia Nervosa can occur in people of all shapes and sizes.
By debunking the myth that eating disorders are a girl’s disorder, we can make it easier for males to seek help. Nobody should ever feel like they cannot seek help out of fear of embarrassment, and breaking the stigma will help pave the way to effective treatment.www.visioncounselling.com.au Published: 23/04/2014 “Eating Disorders and Males”, (Eating disorders Victoria), Available: https://www.eatingdisorders.org.au (Accessed: 2014, April 23) “Information about Eating Disorders” (Men Get Eating Disorders Too), Available: http://mengetedstoo.co.uk (Accessed: 2014, April 13) Cowburn, A. (2014), “Breaking the Silence -Why We Should Be Talking About Male Eating Disorders” (New Statesman). Available: http://www.newstatesman.com (Accessed: 2014, April 23) Image Reference: Dollar Photo Club