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Eating Disorder & Addiction Specialists Counselling for addictions, eating disorders & compulsive behaviour
Chelsea & Harley Street, central London

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Male Eating Disorders

Challenging the stigma of male eating disorders and helping you find ways to change your relationship with your body, your health and your diet.

The stereotype that eating disorders only occur in women does not take into consideration that about one in three people struggling with an eating disorder is male. It is a growing trend in society that is under-reported, under-diagnosed and under-treated.

Due to the cultural bias towards eating disorders being a female issue, men are much less likely to seek treatment. One reason could be due to the fact that most of the support available for eating disorders is geared towards women and girls, which includes the language around eating disorders, the treatment on offer and the support provided.

Male Eating Disorders. hands-measure

Types of Male Eating Disorders & their Symptoms

There are a wide range of eating disorders that also affect men. These include Binge Eating, Purging, Laxative Abuse, Fasting for Weight Loss and Steroid & Supplement Abuse.

Just like women, men can also suffer with Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia, but feel stigmatised and ashamed to reach out for help due to the pressures on them to be a ‘man’.

There are a range of symptoms that suggest someone is suffering with a male eating disorder, such as:

  • Distorted and unrealistic body image
  • Fear of gaining weight
  • Extreme thinness
  • Severely restricted eating or missing meals completely

  • Unhealthy pursuit of thinness
  • Self esteem that is affected by body weight
  • Denial of consequences of extreme weight loss

Male Eating Disorders. superman

What Causes Male Eating Disorders?

Masculine body image has changed dramatically over the last 20 years; it is more scrutinised today than it has ever been. Through the lens of the media, men are under more pressure than ever to conform to a male stereotype: one that is strong, fit and healthy, with a focus on their muscularity. Consequently, many men develop an obsession with their body image which can lead to damaging patterns of behaviour in their quest for the ‘perfect’ body.

At the same time, there is a pressure on men to also be more sensitive, more in touch with their femininity. Society depicts the modern man as more caring and compassionate, more considerate and in touch with their emotions.

Herein lies the challenge for men; how does a man conform to the strong, muscular, male stereotype, while at the same time remaining in touch with their feelings and their femininity? This creates unnecessary tension which can lead to negative behaviours.

For some men, acknowledging that they have a problem with their body image and reaching out for support may make them feel weak, or ashamed. This, coupled with the fact that most of the support available is geared towards women, means that men may not feel that they can get the support they need, or even just engaging in treatment will make them less of a man.

How do Eating Disorders affect Men?

The fundamental differences between the body of a male and of a female mean that while many effects of eating disorders are the same, some effects present differently in males than they do in females. Some of the ways an eating disorder affects men are:

  • Decreased sex drive
  • Impotence
  • Weakness
  • Constipation
  • Depression

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Substance abuse
  • Hair loss
  • Irregular or slow heartbeat

How to Treat Male Eating Disorders

The main barrier for men to overcome is acknowledging that they have an eating disorder and getting them to talk about it. The stigma of engaging in any form of treatment or therapy may make them feel weak and demasculinised. And the fact that most of the support available is predominantly geared towards females may discourage men from seeking support.

Men need to seek male focused treatment, which is available. Speaking to a professional about their eating disorder, one that is male and has experience of eating disorders is the first step to recovery.

Eating Disorder & Addiction Specialists work with highly trained professionals, who have first-hand experience of male eating disorders to support, encourage and provide the treatment options that best match each unique individual. For help with overcoming male eating disorders you can reach us by phone on 0333 339 2430 at any time, or contact us by email to discuss any questions you may have about treatment.

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