Eating disorders in men and boys: They often go unrecognized


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They laughed confusedly when Ryan Sheldon said his family had an eating disorder. When he brought it to his doctor, he was told they missed it because the doctor never thought he was at risk.

And when he started talking publicly about his experience, he said one audience (also a doctor) said he was misdiagnosed because Sheldon wasn’t extremely big or thin.

Sheldon, 34, who chairs the National Association of Eating Disorders Ambassador Program, has been working on body image-related issues since the age of eight. When those problems evolved into concrete eating disorders, he had a hard time identifying and getting help because of the stereotype that eating disorders only occur in teenage girls.

According to Stuart Murray, this is a belief that this is harmful and untrue, as about one-third of eating disorders affect men or boys. Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Southern California Director of Translational Research at the Institute for Eating Disorders. In the United States alone, 10 million men are affected by eating disorders at some point in their lives. National Association of Eating Disorders..

When the organization launches a National Eating Disorder Week awareness campaign on Monday, experts will share how eating disorders affect men and boys, and why they are often excluded from photography. ..

Eating disorders in boys and men can manifest in the typical way of women, but they can also manifest in unexpected ways.

When thinking of people with eating disorders, many think of girls and women who restrict food, exercise relentlessly, and secretly purge.

Men can experience such eating disorders, said Dr. Blake Woodside, Honorary Medical Director of the Toronto General Hospital’s Eating Disorders Program and a professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto.

But men are also feeling pressure to comply with some masculine shapes that society considers acceptable, such as muscular superheroes and poor computer geeks, Woodside said.

Some of these ideals encourage men to limit their calorie count, while others do the opposite: overtraining, protein overload, and significant nutrients such as fats and carbs. Encourage restrictions.

When does the interest in maintaining a particular physique become an eating disorder? It happens when your actions and interactions begin to be dominated by the limits you set for your ideal body, Murray said.

“What are the criteria: does it affect the ability of people to lead a normal and functional life?” He said.

If men are so affected by eating disorders, why aren’t we asking about it? Stigma and exclusion.

Anorexia nervosa was first identified in both boys and girls in the 19th century, but Murray said boys were excluded from research and diagnostic criteria.

Until recently, breast changes and loss of menstruation were key to diagnosing eating disorders, Murray said. Since then, the criteria have changed, but he added that men and boys are still excluded from most studies on eating disorders.

Its exclusion can often lead to stigma, and men and boys, and those around them, believe that telling women that they may have a disability with a pigeon hole threatens masculineness. They are unaware of their actions or hesitate to get help.

To make matters worse, eating disorders in men are often favored in the social media world, Murray said.

Celebrities and influencers post overtraining, along with body shots and cheat day meals. This is intended to trick the body into getting out of starvation and not burning muscles.

Without looking at the gender context, almost all doctors classify that type of behavior as bulimia nervosa. For men, “we see it as a kind of prosocial way to get more muscular,” Murray said.

Many families and family doctors are not yet familiar with the signs of eating disorders in boys and men, so the first place is to know what to look for.

According to Woodside, teenage boys are human locusts and often destroy every bite of food along the way. He said they are noteworthy if someone you care about suddenly notices a sudden change in the amount they eat or the public amount.

Woodside added that if the men and boys in your life are making a big difference in their life activities and relationships, it may be time to take a closer look.

From there, there is good news and bad news.

Bad news? “In the field of eating disorders, we need to treat boys and men based on treatment studies that target only women. We must make this big reasoning that we are achieving our goals. Must be, “Murray said.

But the good news is that men and boys often get better when they are treated for eating disorders, Woodside said.

At some point, Sheldon had lost his job, his money, and his relationship with eating disorders. Getting his body and his life back on track required years of professional treatment and the help of support groups.

Now he says that the best way to help men and boys like him to get medical treatment is often to share the hidden truth: they are not alone.

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