Marketing and advertising have developed the value of self-imagery. Being thin and or having big muscles seems to be the vision of perfection. You can see it by just looking at the front of magazines. This imagery has warped the minds of girls, boys, women, and men to be the perspective of excellence and is the status quo. These magazines promote restrictive diets, dehydration, and exercise routines focused on burning large amounts of calories. They show you how to get thin and become ripped and lean.
However, there is no difference when it comes to the two. They both lead to some eating disorders. Although the statistics for eating disorders are higher and more prevalent in women, men are no exception.
What is an Eating Disorder?
Let’s first define what a disorder is so you can understand how they work. An eating disorder has many different levels. For example, a disorder is an illness that interferes with your physical, mental, or emotional normalcy by disrupting their functionality.
A disorder can also be a host of issues or problems that cause strife and difficulty, physically and/or mentally. So, disorders range from permanent mental health problems to temporary ones that create change and adaptability for the worst in health and life.
Men and Eating Disorders
An eating disorder can manifest itself in many ways. Firstly, it does not need to involve food. It can be someone who eats but excessively works out often throughout the day to manage his weight. This is a primary behavior among men who have an eating disorder. It covers up for an issue that is seen as feminine.
Secondly, exercise becomes addictive and serves as the basis of control instead of dieting. Excessive exercise is a problem in itself but coupled with an eating disorder, it can serve as an excuse. This eating disorder affects men more than others, like anoxia and bulimia, which still affect men but are statistically higher for women.
Men, Self-Consciousness, and Body Image
Men are self-conscious. Don’t fool yourself. It tends to be hidden because of cultural masculinity. Men often get caught up wanting to look lean and defined muscularly. They want to maintain or look like a runway model with ripped, lean shoulders and a six-pack, abs, not beer. They are exercising to be healthy but find themselves getting caught up looking in the mirror, losing the focus of health. To get ripped and lean as well as become thin, it requires perfect nutrition. However, perfect nutrition is difficult. It does require preparation. And since preparation is a very poor habit among men and society, the idea for excellent nutrition often gets skewed to mean reduction of food and dehydration.
Men tend to focus on being ripped and lean rather than being thin. Statistically, women prioritize being skinny rather than having big muscles. However, they use similar or the same tactics and methods to achieve the result.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder-BDD
Body Dysmorphic Disorder is when men are obsessed with their muscles’ appearance, look, and size. It typically leads to the use of PED’s and steroids, calorie restricting methods, and dehydration to achieve a ripped look. This disorder does not mean men have an eating disorder, but it leads to the practices of eating disorders to obtain a result.
As a result, they are at risk of developing more severe methods like bingeing, purging, restricting food, and abusing supplements to diminish hunger.
BDD is performed by few athletes, but mainly bodybuilders. Bodybuilder practices and methods trickle down and influence men in society as being effective and healthy, especially the youth.
Sports and Eating Disorders
In many sports, athletes practice many types of caloric restriction. This is called Anorexia Athletica. It is a type of eating disorder that impacts athletes. It is the practice of athletes limiting their calories and food to achieve lean body composition and a lower weight for competition. Men with anorexia athletica restrict their food intake and engage in bouts of excessive intense exercise. They believe that having a lower body weight will enhance their performance and give them a competitive edge.
Suppose you look at sports like wrestling, rowing, swimming, gymnastic, bodybuilding, and martial arts. In that case, they require you to be lighter or register at a specific weight class. About 33% of the men in these sports have eating disorders. Wrestlers, for example, restrict calories and wear rubber suits to lose weight and restrict calories in season. Bodybuilders dehydrate their bodies to look chiseled and defined. In consequence, restricting food and water along with significant losses of sweat can lead to death and irreversible physical issues.
Athletes with anorexia athletica tend to believe what they are doing is safe and don’t think it is unhealthy. However, restricting calories and food, reduces nutrients. And reducing nutrients leads to less repair and poor recovery to train and perform. These athletes become prone to injury, especially bone fractures and breaks as well as muscle strains. Unfortunately, many of these practices that create anorexia athletica are passed down from athletes, coaches, parents, and from magazines.
It is hard to see a man or for a man to recognize he has an eating disorder. Culturally men seem not to care about their appearance like women. But, yet, they do. Suppose you learn to look outside the box. In that case, you will see a man’s excessiveness and obsession is based on being self-conscious, masked by a macho cultural coverup of an eating disorder seen as stereotypically feminine.
Contact the NEDA Helpline for support, resources, and treatment options for yourself or a loved one who is struggling with an eating disorder. Helpline volunteers are trained to help you find the support and information you need. Reach out today!
You can always leave a message for the Helpline if it is not currently available, and we will return your call or message promptly. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/help-support/contact-helpline