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Eating Disorders In Men—A Bigger Problem Than Many Realize

In today’s world, eating disorders are no longer the domain of women. Male or female, people are subjected to unhealthy and unrealistic depictions of the human body everywhere they look. Whether it’s influencers and lifestyle gurus relying on HGH and steroids to attain impossible physiques, or Hollywood actors with teams of trainers, photoshop, and CGI enhancements, men are now subjected to the same sort of dysphoria-inducing media that historically has fueled eating disorders.

Critically, eating disorders in men and women may present differently. As a result, eating disorders and body image issues in men often go unnoticed and undiagnosed, sometimes leading to serious healthcare issues, prolonged bouts of depression, and other negative outcomes.

Signs of Eating Disorders in Men

While there are some similarities in how men and women show signs of an eating disorder, there are some key differences. If you’re worried you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, here are some key physical and behavioral symptoms to look out for.

Physical Signs

Malnutrition has some very immediate physical impacts on the body. The list below is by no means comprehensive, but it is a good place to start:

  • Dry Skin
  • Brittle Nails
  • Hair Loss
  • Fatigue
  • Exhaustion
  • Rapid Weight Changes

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, it may be a sign that what started as an attempt to lose or control your weight healthily has slipped into dangerous territory. You should lose no more than 1 – 2 pounds per week and consult with a physician any time you experience rapid weight gain or loss, as it could be related to a medical issue.

man looking at waterBehavioral Signs

Eating disorders often start innocently and escalate over time. Here are some warning signs to look out for that your eating habits may be leading you down a dangerous path:

  • Use of Steroids
  • Calorie Restriction
  • Avoiding Meals
  • Irritability
  • Social Isolation
  • Secretive Behaviors

It’s worth remembering that some behaviors that can seem healthy on the surface can be a precursor to a more serious issue. Getting regular exercise at the gym is one thing, but it can become dangerous if it turns into an obsession. When someone’s struggling with feelings of insecurity or shame about their body, what begins as a healthy impulse to get in shape sometimes leads them to extreme calorie restriction or abuse of steroids or other dangerous substances.

Many athletes and movie stars turn to steroids and HGH to get their impressive physiques. However, they do so with the guidance of a team of trainers and, importantly, the expertise of doctors. Even so, it’s not uncommon for them to experience negative side effects related to their health that aren’t always obvious to the public.

Limited Support

Men often struggle to get support for the emotional issues in their lives. Doctors and therapists are less likely to discuss eating disorders with men. In addition, men are less likely to talk about any insecurities or issues they might have about their bodies. Worries and insecurities like that are often seen as a problem for women; however, they transcend gender.

As teenagers, men feel enormous pressure to be tough—to play it cool—to not care. The stress of carrying these worries and being unable to express or address them can be overwhelming. Our bodies change as we get older. Their bodies stop burning calories and building muscle as easily as they did early on. Men, used to the effects of testosterone, are often unprepared for those changes.

Getting Help

If you’re concerned you may have picked up some dangerous or unhealthy habits, please reach out today. A therapist provides a safe, non-judgmental way for you to work through your concerns in a low-pressure environment. Additionally, a good therapist can connect you with the tools you need to help manage your weight. Let’s connect soon so you can learn more about eating disorder therapy.