Eating Disorders Awareness Week (27 Feb – 5 March) is back! And this year, with a focus on men and male eating disorders. The ‘#HelpMenGetHelp’ campaign led by Beat aims to break gender stereotypes by shedding light on a little-known yet important fact: 1 in 4 people with eating disorders are men.
Traditionally research and treatment for eating disorders have been mainly focused around women. As men are often silent in their struggle, it is important to end the stigma surrounding eating disorders and break down the barriers to treatment.
Why do we not talk more about male eating disorders?
Eating disorders are still seen as ‘woman’s problem’. Women talk more freely about their relationships with food and their bodies and there is more acceptance in seeking help.
Male eating disorders, on the other hand, can be more difficult to spot. They are more likely to present in what can be perceived as a ‘healthy body’ – strong, lean and muscular – just look at our super heroes and social media champions. But you can’t tell by looking at someone what is going on inside, it is possible to be physically healthy but the means of getting there are putting your body under extreme stress.
So why do men not seek help:
- Men being less likely to seek help due to the stigma of it being ‘a women’s disorder’
- When men do seek help they are less likely to be understood and diagnosed
- When they are diagnosed the expertise and services available are skewed towards women
- An under representation of men in the media who talk about male eating disorders further reinforces the ideas around it being a ‘women’s problem”
Do I have an Eating Disorder?
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but if any of these signs feel familiar to you, or you have seen them in someone else, now may be the time to seek help:
- Compulsive or excessive exercising
- A change in relationship with food, for example counting calories, skipping meals, restricting food groups
- A sudden change in appearance – this could be weight loss, or bulking up with muscle
- Anxiety or irritability around mealtimes
- Rigid thoughts around good vs bad foods
- Preoccupation with body shape
- More sensitive to comments around body shape
- Low mood
Where to Get Help?
While many symptoms of eating disorders might feel commonplace, what sets an eating disorder apart is a medical diagnosis. If you are concerned your first port of call should be your GP. It is important that they take a full history of your eating patterns and weight vs height (to work out our BMI) and do other tests to see how healthy your body is on the inside.
With the right help and support recovery is well within reach, so please lets break down the barriers and help men to speak out.
If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be suffering from an eating disorder and would like further information on our services to treat these conditions please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
For more Information:
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You can also find more helpful information on our blogs posts: