More and more men in society are struggling with eating disorders. Media stereotypes of success and attractiveness are pinned to body shapes that are lean, muscular and attractive.
With social media taking up so much part of our lives today, men are bombarded with body shape images that eat away at their masculinity and self worth.
Males are less likely to report having an eating disorder compared to women because of the negative stigma that eating disorders are a ‘female’ disease. Many times men suffering from eating disorders are not seeking for any help, thus not receiving the right treatment. It is very important to understand that eating disorders can affect anyone irrespective of gender, age and ethnicity.
At WeightMatters we support men in breaking free from the thoughts, feelings and behaviours that keep them stuck in their eating disorder. Together we can challenge your thinking around your weight, size and self-concept, and provide you with tools to create a better relationship with food.
Current research suggests that more and more men are suffering from distorted body image today. This means that they are extremely worried about their physical appearance and body shape. Unfortunately, the majority of men feel ashamed to talk about their feelings, as today’s culture believes that body image concerns in men are a mark of weakness.
Men usually develop a distorted body image during adolescence. They are particularly concerned with their face or skin, such as acne problems, hair loss or muscular tone. Males in media are lean, strong and masculine, creating unrealistic expectations about how men ‘should’ look.
Severe body image issues, such as extreme preoccupation and obsession about small body imperfections, can lead to body dysmorphia. This can lead to the development of eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia. Inaccurate body perception can lead to excessive exercise, low caloric intake, as well as, the use of laxatives and steroids in order for men to build muscle and obtain a ‘perfect’ image.
Therefore, body disturbance and the subsequent restrictive dieting can be a predictor of eating disorder development. It is important to challenge body image issues in men in order to reduce relapse and lead to long-term recovery.
Men may develop anorexia as a coping mechanism to the transition from adolescence to adulthood which can make them feel disempowered, and they need to find control. Homosexual orientation and gender identity confusion is also linked to a higher risk of developing anorexia.
Men with anorexia usually struggle with Muscle Dysmorphic Disorder, also known as ‘Reverse Anorexia’ or ‘Bigorexia’, which might result when men are extremely worried about whether their bodies are muscular or lean enough. Excessive exercise and athletic performance are common features among men with anorexia.
Men with bulimia often engage in compensatory behaviours to control their weight due to a fear of becoming fat, including purging and excessive exercise, such as body building or weight lifting.
Perfectionism, depression and low self-worth can all predispose men towards developing bulimia.
Men with binge eating disorder often struggle with poor emotional skills and find it difficult to communicate their feelings.
Men are often ashamed and embarrassed to share their experiences, which means they can avoid seeking treatment.
Binge eating in males may be associated with obesity. Social isolation, depression, and body dissatisfaction perpetuate the binge eating habits.