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Eating Disorders in Men: 5 Reasons Why It Is Under-Diagnosed and What to Do

There are many reasons why eating disorders in men go undiagnosed. This post will explore five of the most common ones and suggest ways to overcome them.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Did you know that eating disorders affect men just as much as women? In fact, it is estimated that 10% of people who have an eating disorder are male. However, the number of men who are actually diagnosed with an eating disorder is likely much lower than this. Why is this? There are a number of reasons why eating disorders in men are often under-diagnosed.

In this blog post, we will discuss 5 of these reasons and what you can do to get help if you or someone you know is struggling with an Eating Disorder.

What does man up exactly mean?

1. Being Told to ‘Man-up’

One of the main reasons why Eating Disorders in men are under-diagnosed is because of the pressure to “man up”. Eating disorders are often seen as a “women’s issue”, and men who struggle with them are often told to just “man up” and deal with it. This can make it very difficult for men to come forward and seek help for their Eating Disorder.

Eating disorders in men are very likely under-diagnosed for this reason. Eating disorders do not discriminate, and they can affect anyone regardless of gender.

The Stigma Around Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are often seen as a sign of weakness, and this is especially true for men. This is especially true for men, who may feel like they have to be “strong” and “in control” at all times. However, if you are struggling with an Eating Disorder, it is important to know that you are not weak and there is nothing wrong with seeking help. Eating disorders are a real and serious problem, and they can affect anyone regardless of their gender. There is no shame in admitting that you need help, and there are people who will be more than happy to support you through your journey to recovery.

Mistakes tend to happen as we are all human.

Eating Disorders Are Often Misdiagnosed

Eating Disorders in men are under-diagnosed is because they are often misdiagnosed. Eating disorders can be mistaken for other conditions, such as depression or anxiety. This is especially true for men, who may not exhibit the same physical symptoms as women. If you think you or someone you know may have an Eating Disorder, it is important to see a doctor or mental health professional for a proper diagnosis.

Eating disorders are often seen as a “women’s issue.” However, Eating Disorders affect both sexes. In fact, Eating Disorders are actually more common in men than many people realise. This is especially true for men, who may not exhibit the same physical symptoms as women. If you think you or someone you know may have an Eating Disorder, it is important to see a doctor or mental health professional for a proper diagnosis. If you or someone you know is struggling with an Eating Disorder, don’t delay in seeking help. Early intervention is the key to recovery.

Eating Disorders Are Often Hidden

Eating disorders are often hidden, both from others and from yourself. This is especially true for men, who may be ashamed of their Eating Disorder or think that they can’t talk about it. Most eating disorders don’t have a ‘look’. Men struggling with binge eating disorder may look like a normal weight range, with a family, and a successful job. Men struggling with disordered eating may be going to the gym 5 times a week and eating ‘clean’ who is admired by other people – but inside they may be struggling with anxiety around foods they used to enjoy.

Meme - Among Us
When you have to make a decision but your mind is the one to do so.

2. The ‘Hustle and Grind’ Mentality

In our society, there is a lot of pressure to be successful and to always be on a grindset mentality. This can lead to men pushing themselves too hard and not taking care of their mental or physical health. If you are struggling with an Eating Disorder, it is important to know that your mental health is just as important as your physical health.

Eating disorders in men are often under-diagnosed because of the “hustle and grind” mentality. In our society, there is a lot of pressure to be successful and to always be grinding or working on a certain goal without rest. Taking care of yourself mentally and physically is essential for your overall wellbeing. Often times, ‘hustling and grinding’ too hard can cause burnout leading to your mental health at an all-time-low which some people may develop anxiety, disordered eating, or depression. Don’t let the “hustle and grind” mentality prevent you from getting the help you need.

We should not ignore others’ personal stories.

3. Limited Awareness and Limited Stories Are Shared for Men Struggling With Eating Disorders

These are only a few examples, but Eating Disorders in men are under-diagnosed for many reasons. The lack of awareness and limited stories that are shared about Eating Disorders in men can make it difficult for men to seek help.

A lot of discussion about Eating Disorders tends to focus on women, which can lead men to feel like they don’t “fit the bill” when it comes to Eating Disorders. However, Eating Disorders are very much a problem for men as well. In fact, Eating Disorders in men are often under-diagnosed because of the lack of conversation and awareness around the topic. Eating Disorders can have a serious impact on a man’s mental and physical health, so it’s important that we start talking about Eating Disorders in men more openly. By normalising the conversation around Eating Disorders in men, we can help to break down the stigma and make it easier for men to seek help.

Don’t fall into the pressure of a lean and muscular body

4. We Put Men Who Have Lean, Muscular Bodies on a Pedestal

The pressure to be muscular is another reason why Eating Disorders in men is under-diagnosed. In our society, there is a lot of pressure on men to have big muscles and be “ripped”. This can lead to men using dangerous methods to try and achieve this, such as using steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs. If you are struggling with an Eating Disorder, it is important to know that you don’t have to have a certain body type to be happy and healthy.

5. Unintentional Body Shaming

This can happen when someone makes a comment about someone’s weight or body without realising how hurtful it can be. What may look like a simply joke calling someone ‘fat’ or ‘chubby’ can be that one thing starting their eating disorder. This can also lead to men feeling shame about their bodies and not wanting to seek help for their Eating Disorder.

Body shaming is often thought of as a woman’s issue, but they are very much present in men as well. Unintentional body shaming can be a factor in why Eating Disorders in men are under-diagnosed. This can happen when someone makes a comment about someone’s weight or body without realising how hurtful it can be. This can lead to men feeling shame about their bodies and not wanting to seek help for their Eating Disorder.

What to do… what to do?

What Should We Do?

Whenever you hear someone talking about their weight, even if it is complimentary, do your best to change the topic. Talking about weight is what fuels the eating disorder. What may seem harmless to one person may be that one thing causing someone to fuel their disordered eating habits later on. Let’s shift away from talking about a person’s weight, calorie intake, and diet habits and focus on their personality – their humour, their passions, their confidence. Let us praise and focus on what makes them them! People are more than just a number or their looks.

And we need to create a safe space for men to talk about their Eating Disorders. This is an important issue that often gets overlooked. Too often, men feel like they have to suffer in silence. But by creating a safe space for them to talk openly about their experience, we can help them heal and recover.

Men are expected to be “tough” and “in control,” so they may be reluctant to talk about their feelings or seek help. This needs to change. We need to do better. We need to break the stigma around Eating Disorders and start talking about them more. We need to educate ourselves and others on the warning signs and risk factors. And we need to create a safe space for men to talk about their Eating Disorders without judgment or shame. Only then can we hope to truly make a difference.

Conclusion

It is time to start talking about eating disorders in men. This problem is real, it is pervasive, and it deserves our attention. We need to do better in diagnosing and treating these conditions in order for men to recover and live healthy lives. If you are a man who is struggling with an eating disorder, know that you are not alone.

It is time to start talking about eating disorders in men. For too long, these conditions have been seen as a “woman’s issue.” There is help available, and we want to support you on your journey to wellness. Eating disorders do not discriminate. They can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, or gender identity.

If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be struggling with an eating disorder, please reach out for help. But with support, recovery is possible. For more information about the signs of eating disorders in men and how to get help, please visit the other articles on the website or book a consultation with me. Together, we can break the silence and start talking about eating disorders in men. It’s time to put an end to this hidden epidemic.

By Jonathan Sumner

Hi! I'm Jonathan and I'm a UK-based dietitian who has a strong passion to support, empower, and improve peoples' diets and free them from binge-eating. I love weightlifting, going for walks, and preparing a delicious roast dinner!
Learn more about me here

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