Breaking the Silence: Eating Disorders and the men who suffer

Eating disorders are commonly associated as a struggle that only women go through even commonly referred to as a “woman’s disease”. Preoccupation with image, body,  and self is highly associated to be issues that women struggle with and think about. I am here to break the silence and inform you that this stereotype is far from true. The reality is that out of the 8 millions people who suffer from Eating Disorders in the US 10 percent of them are male. In fact between 1999 and 2009 the government estimates indicate that the number of males admitted to hospitals for complications from eating disorders rose by a whopping 53 percent. Recent studies and surveys show that young males have admitted to vomiting, restricting or have used laxatives to control their weight as well as taken diet pills. This can be rather shocking as men stereotypically are not thought of to suffer from an eating disorder. I estimate that the rate of men who suffer is probably a lot higher but the embaressment and shame that many men feel stops them from speaking out and seeking treatment for themselves. I am here to shed some light that yes men suffer from eating disorders too.

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I can speak on this personally because I have worked in three residential treatment centers and I have seen many young boys and men come into treatment. I have seen boys as young as 10 and the ages range up to the age of 50. Speaking with these boys and men shed so much insight into the gripping affect body image and pressure that men themselves can feel. I have noticed this especially among male athletes who must meet weight requirments for different types of sports. Men feel their own pressure to achieve a certain look or body image type.

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Today men are more aware and conscious of their bodies. Media portrays the look of lean, fit built men with muscles and depending on the sport or peer groups, more men are feeling pressured to achieve a certain look. I have noticed that especially men who are involved with wrestling, running, football and other sports feel intense pressure to be above or under a certain weight class. This leads men to either overeat, restrict, purge or use laxatives to meet this criteria. The bottom line is we need to end the stereotypes that eating disorders are a woman’s disease. I want to educate and increase the awareness that an eating disorder can affect anyone! No matter what your age, gender, status etc eating disorders are on the rise and affecting more people. Education needs to start at an early age and that begins with parents and in the schools. We also need to end the shame associated with having an eating disorder. It already is a disorder that those who suffer feel guilt and shame and have a hard time reaching out for help, but the men who suffer feel an even heightened shame to seek help.  Treatment and groups have  traditionally been targeted to women so we need to branch out and make avenues of help more open so people feel more comfortable reaching out. It’s time to end the invisible struggle, its time to break free, its time to heal!

Dealing with…. OUR EMOTIONS!!

I think many people in the world have a love/hate relationship with their emotions, other often times struggle with being able to even identify their emotions and the internal feelings that arise within them. I feel that our love/hate relationship and inability to properly handle, cope with or identify the different emotions and states is a contributing factor to why so many people suffer from anxiety, depression fear and addictions. Many people tend to use harmful and negative tools to cope with the abundance of emotions that fills them. For example to numb unpleasant emotions people turn to drugs, alcohol, food. To increase or feel pleasurable emotions people turn to drugs, attention seeking or risky behaviors. Some shut down all emotional outlets all together to avoid any emotions. I feel the more people learn ways to handle identify and cope with emotions the better people will not only handle them but their lives as well. Sometimes we are able to feel emotionally balanced, other times our emotions are so intertwined they leave us feeling confused as our emotions battle it out and often one emotion is so strong that it takes over all control.That is the dangerous part because that is when our emotional state has the power and control to influence not only our thoughts but our actions and decisions. 

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I’m going to address once a week different ways to confront different emotions and how to try to turn them into positives and therefore lead to more positive actions. This week is just my way of introducing this to you. What are your thoughts about this topic? What do you want to know more of or understand? We all have the capability of creating the life we want why waste another day controlled by our emotions, we control them!