While both men and women experience challenges with food, body image, and eating behaviors, social stigmas continue to perpetuate the idea that eating disorders are “women’s problems.” But what men who overeat overcome the challenge of binge eating?
As such, men that struggle with disordered eating often remain silent and feel overwhelming shame, isolation, and hopelessness.
One of the most common eating disorders in the United States is Binge Eating Disorder (BED), with 40% of the 10 million affected being male [NEDA].
These men are not alone in their challenge, and they can engage in a few behaviors to work toward overcoming BED.
Bring the Problem of Men Who Overeat to Light
It is difficult for men who overeat to overcome a disorder that you won’t admit exists. This lack of admission to a disorder is especially true for men experiencing disordered eating, whose shame and guilt often deter them from discussing their struggles.
The longer these problems remain in the dark, the more powerful they become. For a man to take back his power, he has to bring the disorder to light.
This doesn’t have to mean making a public declaration on social media or letting everyone in your circle know you struggle with overeating or BED. Just naming the problem to a trusted friend, or even only to yourself, puts the power and control back in your hands.
Silence The Voice of ED and Find Your Own
It may feel as if your disorder is a part of you. In fact, the voice of your ED likely tells you that every day.
As that voice pretends to be your friend, it also tells you lies that make you feel as if you are weak because of your disorder. You more than likely feel a great deal of shame because you are a man with BED, or that you are altogether not good enough.
You likely have a feeling in your gut each time the voice of BED speaks up. A feeling that makes you uncomfortable because it is the part of you that knows that the voice of your ED is wrong.
Listen to that feeling and trust that voice that is saying the BED and the eating disorder lies.
When your eating disorder tells you that you are not good enough or that bingeing will fix your problems, don’t listen to it or take it as fact, argue with it.
Turn your eating disorders negative and harmful monologue into a dialogue, and fight the lies with truth. You will eventually silence your eating disorder forever.
Finding support can be especially difficult for men with Binge Eating Disorder. As previously mentioned, social stigma often makes men feel ashamed that they have a “woman’s disorder,” leading to them hiding their struggle and trying to deal with it alone.
Those men that find the strength and courage to discuss their experiences then have to overcome the challenge of actually finding support geared toward them.
Society is still catching up to the understanding that men experience eating disorders, but there are more resources for men to find support than ever before.
Begin by searching online for websites such as EatingDisorderHope.com and organizations with programs specifically designed for men overcoming BED. But, don’t stop there!
Engage with online communities to find individuals that share your experiences and can help support you on your road to recovery.
Experiencing BED as a man can be lonely and scary but bringing the problem to light, finding your voice, and developing a support system takes the power away from the disorder and can help you to be victorious.
About the Author: Margot Rittenhouse is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth.
As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.
References:: Ross, C. C. . Binge eating in Men. Psychology Today, retrieved on 17 January 2018
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Reviewed and Approved on June 4, 2019.
Published March 16, 2018, on EatingDisorderHope.com