The topic of body image and its connection to eating disorders is getting some much-deserved air time in the media these days. But if you’re paying attention to these conversations, you may have noticed that something is missing: the men. Both body image challenges and eating disorders are typically portrayed as women’s issues. Not only does this prevent us from better understanding how men relate to body image and how this impacts male health, but the silence around men’s experiences can make it harder for men who struggle with disordered eating to get help. In this important new video from #IPEtv, Emily Rosen, Director of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, illuminates some of the biggest myths about eating disorders in men and shares some startling statistics that have been hidden for too long.
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Here is a transcript of this week’s video:
Hi, I’m Emily Rosen, Director of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.
Today we’re going to talk about Men, Food and Body Image
When most people talk about eating issues or eating disorders, they think of women. It’s not without reason. 85-90% of people diagnosed with eating disorders are female, yet might those statistics be skewed by other factors? 40% of binge eaters are men, but binge eating is only one form of disordered eating. Is it possible that men silently struggle with body image and food because it’s perceived as a woman’s issue?
Let’s look at some myths around men and food:
Myth #1: Eating disorders are a women’s disorder
Fact: Although women suffer disproportionately, 10-15% are men and that number is probably skewed by the stigma for men to get help. One in every three women and one in any four men are on a diet. Yet, food issues tend to be seen as a woman’s issue and women and gay men suffer disproportionately from, or are more frequently diagnosed with, eating disorders compared to heterosexual men. Each gender can translate their social fears and relationship problems into their relationships with food and body.
Myth #2: Men can’t get eating disorders because they’re supposed to be bigger
Fact: This gender expectation may explain why there’s a higher prevalence of men in the binge eating statistics. However, many men with eating disorders go unrecognized because their symptoms are written off as going the extra mile for athletics. For example, many men with bulimia learned it first in sports that require weigh-ins, such as wrestling, boxing, gymnastics, and horse racing. Running is the most addictive exercise for people with a predisposition to addiction, and track runners and triathletes often meet the criteria for anorexia, yet men and many athletic women get praised for this discipline even when it’s at the expense of their health.
Myth #3: Men don’t have sexual or emotional trauma
Fact: Many men develop eating disorders due to emotional or sexual abuse from an athletic coach, a trusted family member, friend, schoolteacher, or religious figure. Because of the stigma for men to come to terms with being sexually abused, and because it’s common for men to question what that means about their sexual orientation, many men don’t get the support they need. Men also are disproportionately shamed out of their emotions compared to women. They can be ridiculed, called names like “girl” and “gay,” as if those were insults, as a means to confirm male privilege and alpha male status. For men who don’t fit into an alpha male stereotype, they can feel less than adequate. Yet that very feeling is also what may simultaneously trigger an eating challenge, and keep men from seeking help.
It’s time for men to embrace that they have emotions, too, and that’s part of the wholeness of being a man. It’s time to stop stigmatizing men for having feelings that are difficult or for needing help of any kind. If you’re a man and you recognize some signs of a challenging relationship with food and body, it’s time to be courageous enough to get support and finally break free.
I hope this was helpful.
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The Institute for the Psychology of Eating offers the most innovative and inspiring professional trainings, public programs, conferences, online events and lots more in the exciting fields of Dynamic Eating Psychology and Mind Body Nutrition! In our premier professional offering – the Eating Psychology Coach Certification Training – you can grow a new career and help your clients in a powerful way with food, body and health. You’ll learn cutting edge skills and have the confidence to work with the most compelling eating challenges of our times: weight, body image, overeating, binge eating, digestion, fatigue, immunity, mood and much more. If you’re focused on your own eating and health, the Institute offers a great selection of one-of-a-kind opportunities to take a big leap forward in your relationship with food. We’re proud to be international leaders in online and live educational events designed to create the breakthroughs you want most. Our public programs are powerful, results oriented, and embrace all of who we are as eaters – body, mind, heart and soul.
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Again that is psychologyofeating.com.
This is Emily Rosen, Chief Operating Officer for the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.
Thanks so much for your time and interest!
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