Despite the stereotype that eating disorders only occur in women, about one in three people struggling with an eating disorder is male, and subclinical eating disordered behaviours (including binge eating, purging, laxative abuse, and fasting for weight loss) are nearly as common among men as they are among women. Certain eating disordered behaviours are affecting males at a faster rate than women.
Signs of men struggling with food issues tend to be a preoccupation with looking “cut or ripped”. Muscle dysmorphia, or bigorexia, is also increasingly being seen, where men and boys feel they are inadequately muscular, again due to their participation in sports that need some strength or size in order to compete, such as bodybuilding, wrestling, or rugby.
They may get into dangerous cycles of bulking and shredding that might resemble a binge/purge cycle in women.
But it’s important to remember that disordered eating isn’t about vanity. Often, it’s a way that people choose to handle their emotions. It can quickly get out of control, and it’s okay to ask for help. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness but of incredible strength and courage.
Treatment tends to combine dietary and nutrition advice along with a talking therapy which gives you space to explore your difficulties and address any underlying problems. Treatments for eating disorders are the same whichever gender you are, and take a holistic approach. That means all factors are considered, including physical, psychological, and environmental.