When we hear the diagnosis- eating disorder- what comes to mind?
It is important when discussing this complex disorder that we observe the assumptions that may come with it.
Often, when thinking about the population that is impacted by eating disorders, men are not represented accurately in the immense struggle they face navigating this disorder. In fact, according to NEDA one in every three people struggling with an eating disorder is male.
You may be surprised by this statistic due to the high representation in media and society surrounding females struggling with eating disorders. It is crucial that men are also provided with visibility which leads to assistance, support, and resources to heal. When one looks up eating disorders, there are many pictures, videos, or articles about females with an ED. Eating disorders such as anorexia, binge eating, ARFID, etc. are just as common in males as they are in women.
Due to cultural and gendered biases, men are less likely to seek help and treatment for their eating disorder for many reasons. Some males may struggle with muscle dysphoria which can create an obsession that many may not be aware of. Some may feel like they lose masculinity because it’s a “female” disorder.
In the US alone, there are 10 million males who at some point in their life have struggled with an ED.
When males are able to receive the treatment that they deserve and desperately need, societal barriers can come down and healing can occur. Many males talk about being bullied, afraid of not presenting ‘masculine’ enough, struggles with body image disturbances, etc. It is apparent that every male suffers from different thoughts, feelings, understandings just like any other individual in the throws of an ED. They are very individualized. People think addictions are a ‘male concern’, but that’s not the case, it hits all gender representations- the same with Eating Disorders. Eating disorders and mental health struggles do not discriminate. Nor should our treatment options and support.
Treatment for EDs cannot be one-size-fits-all because every person is biologically and culturally different.
Early Intervention for males is critical because the suggested risk rate of mortality for males with eating disorders is higher than females. This comes from the lack of attention to males and their disordered eating/eating disorders. This illness spirals quickly- if you don’t catch it in time and it will take over your life. An ED can manipulate your brain to protect its secrecy by lying and minimizing your behaviors to everyone, creating great tension in your relationships.
So what can we do?
According to NEDA, a gender-sensitive approach is crucial to one’s healing journey to assist in identifying the different needs and dynamics needed to support males. Males that seek and get the help they need may feel out of place when they are neighbored by females which can pose challenges. Luckily, there are different places and supports available to get help that are more directly oriented to treating males struggling with eating disorders.
To support the first steps in recovery, nourishing the brain and body are crucial. Please reach out for the support that you need. Schedule an appointment with one of our dietitians for support and guidance.
Feel free to visit our website and schedule with one of our providers. https://sinnergywellnessgroup.com/our-team/
Together, let’s continue to change the stigma surrounding males and mental health.