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!

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20 ways to LOVE your body!

Happy Sunday Everyone! I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback on the 10 ways to a better body image list here’s another greatest of 20 ways to love your body. The more you find the good in you and your body to focus on and embrace less power you give to the negative thoughts that love to try and take control. I hope this post helps you as we go into a new week of 20 new mindsets & things to try to one day get to self love & acceptance!

20 Ways to Love Your Body
Courtesy of NEDA and Margo Maine, Ph.D.

1. Think of your body as the vehicle to your dreams. Honor it. Respect it. Fuel it.

2. Create a list of all the things your body lets you do. Read it and add to it often.

3.Become aware of what your body can do each day. Remember it is the instrument of your life, not just an ornament.

4. Create a list of people you admire: people who have contributed to your life, your community, or the world.

5. Consider whether their appearance was important to their success and accomplishments.

6. Walk with your head held high, supported by pride and confidence in yourself as a person.

7.Don’t let your weight or shape keep you from activities that you enjoy.

8. Wear comfortable clothes that you like, that express your personal style, and that feel good to your body.

9. Count your blessings, not your blemishes.

10. Think about all the things you could accomplish with the time and energy you currently spend worrying about your body and appearance. Try one!

11. Be your body’s friend and supporter, not its enemy.
Consider this: your skin replaces itself once a month, your stomach lining every five days, your liver every six weeks, and your skeleton every three months. Your body is extraordinary–begin to respect and appreciate it.

12. Every morning when you wake up, thank your body for resting and rejuvenating itself so you can enjoy the day.

13. Every evening when you go to bed, tell your body how much you appreciate what it has allowed you to do throughout the day.

14.Find a method of exercise that you enjoy and do it regularly. Don’t exercise to lose weight or to fight your body. Do it to make your body healthy and strong and because it makes you feel good. Exercise for the Three F’s: Fun, Fitness, and Friendship.

15. Think back to a time in your life when you felt good about your body.
Tell yourself you can feel like that again

16. Keep a list of 10 positive things about yourself–without mentioning your appearance. Add to it! Put a sign on each of your mirrors saying, “I’m beautiful inside and out.”

17. Choose to find the beauty in the world and in yourself.

18. Start saying to yourself, “Life is too
short to waste my time hating my body this way.”

19. Eat when you are hungry. Rest when you are tired.

20. Surround yourself with people that remind you of your inner strength and beauty.