Men & Eating Disorders

Research shows that approximately 5 - 10% of those diagnosed with anorexia and 10 - 15% of those diagnosed with bulimia are men, and there is some indication these proportions may be increasing.

As with women, the causes of disordered eating in men are multi-faceted. One of the factors that may play a role is the media's image of the ideal male in our culture - someone young, slim, fit, heavily muscled and showing off six-pack abs - and men's resulting willingness to go to extreme lengths to mould their bodies into the ideal.

In severe cases, this can lead to muscle dysmorphia, in which men see themselves as smaller and more lacking in muscle than they really are (similar to the distorted 'fat' body image many people struggling with anorexia experience).

While exercise is a necessary part of a healthy life, for some the pursuit of the perfect physique crosses the line into something harmful and potentially dangerous.

Below are 4 signs that could indicate your approach to fitness is moving away from a healthy pursuit and towards something harmful:

  • Distorted body image. Seeing yourself as fat or lacking muscle even though others tell you that the opposite is true.
  • Finding that your exercise regimen interferes with your life. Turning down social invitations or delaying work/school obligations in favour of completing a workout. Hearing complaints from friends and loved ones about the amount of time you spend exercising.
  • Having your self-esteem depend on your appearance. Feeling that looking 'perfect' is the only way you can feel good about yourself.
  • Putting yourself at risk through your pursuit of fitness. For example, turning to steroid use in an effort to increase bulk, or suffering injuries from overtraining.

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.

- Havelock Ellis



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