Although losing weight if you’re obese can give you a better quality of life, and prevent heart disease and some cancers, this weight loss can become an obsession. Eating disorders develop when an individual becomes obsessed with food. With certain eating disorders, like anorexia or bulimia, the focus is on weight loss and calorie counting.
Whereas with eating disorders like binge eating disorders, the food is used a tool to fill a metaphorical hole. Because of society’s view that women should be thin, it’s often thought that mainly women suffer from eating disorders.
However, although statistics say only 1 in 10 eating disorder sufferers is male, the misconceptions surrounding them are thought to prevent huge amounts of men from coming forward.
How a diet can become an eating disorder
Diets often begin by cutting out junk food, candy and soda, and this is a positive step in terms of your health. It’s often thought that small changes over time is the most effective method of weight loss long term and cutting out trans fats and refined sugar is a good place to start. However, in some individuals, this becomes extreme.
Soon, whole food groups will be cut from their diets and their calorie targets become smaller and smaller. In some, this caloric restriction will result in uncontrollable binges, which may lead to purging. This is known as anorexia binge/purge subtype.
On the other hand, those suffering from bulimia will generally eat a healthy, balanced diet, interspersed with episodes of pinging and purging. Methods of purging vary and interestingly, it’s been found that men with bulimia tend to over-exercise to get rid of the calories they’ve consumed, rather than women who will self-induce vomiting or abuse laxatives.
How men develop eating disorders?
It’s thought that the competition, weigh-ins, pressure and perfectionism which come with being a sportsman can cause men to resort to extreme methods of cutting fat and losing weight. Many men don’t believe they suffer from a disorder because they believe they’re just being competitive and even healthy.
This, combined with the misconception that only women develop eating disorders is what prevents men from seeking treatment – forcing them to suffer alone.
Eating disorder treatment
There’s no magic cure for eating disorders in men or women. However, they can be treated and, in time, the sufferer can recover. Ongoing therapy, both alone with a therapist and as part of a group, re-education when it comes to food and an eating plan all contribute to helping the individual re-learn how to feed themselves and rationalize their thought patterns. Although, just like any addiction, it’s down to the sufferer alone to continue with their recovery.
Also Read: The Scary Rise In Adult Eating Disorders