Eating disorders have in the past been a problem associated with young women and teenage girls. In fact, 3% of men will suffer some form of eating disorder in their lifetime and between 25 - 40% of people suffering from eating disorders are male. The figures may even be much greater than this as the perceived stigma for men around what is thought of as a female disease, leads many male sufferers to go undiagnosed and untreated.
Christopher Ecclestone (the actor that played Dr Who) recently raised awareness of his struggle with the disease in his new book, I Love the Bones of You. He says “"Many times I've wanted to reveal that I'm a lifelong anorexic and dysmorphic. I never have. I always thought of it as a filthy secret, because I'm Northern, because I'm male and because I'm working-class." The growth of social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram & Snapchat plus the increasing popularity of reality TV shows such as Love Island, has meant there is an intense focus on men (and woman) to have the perfect body and to conform to an ideal of a certain body image.
This causes some people to take extreme measures with dangerous dieting, excessive exercise and even steroid abuse. Although eating disorders circle around food the root of the problem is psychological and often related to underlying emotional issues. It often lays in a person’s feelings of low self-worth and not being good enough. Most commonly presented eating disorders are Anorexia, Bulimia & Binge Eating. Anorexia nervosa, frequently known as anorexia, is an eating disorder associated with extreme thinness caused by starving oneself. Other common signs include skipping meals, refusing to eat out or with others, excessive exercise regimes plus constant obsessive criticism of own body size & weight gain. Bulimia Nervosa, commonly referred to as Bulimia is described as a chronic cycle of binging on excessive amounts of food and then using extreme, and often dangerous, measures (such as induced vomiting, diuretics, laxatives and/or enemas) to purge the body of the excessive calories consumed.
Binge-eating disorder (or BED) is typified by regularly and compulsively eating large amounts of food, often rapidly and to the point of being uncomfortably full. Eating at times when not hungry. There are a lot of feelings of shame, guilt and embarrassment about this excessive binging and these binges often take place secretly. Men are also more likely to suffer muscle dysmorphia (feelings that they are too skinny and obsessively wanting to be more muscular) and this often goes untreated because it is overlooked as a healthy interest in being in good shape. Often the male has an unhealthy view of himself and possibly an eating disorder. Even though you may realise that what you are doing is harmful to your body’s health and mental well-being, you can’t seem to stop yourself. It’s as if you have no control over your eating habits.
If you, or someone you love, is struggling with an eating disorder contact Phoenix Programmes on their confidential helpline +34 685 582 150