80% of all children, boys and girls, are afraid of being overweight! Of those 80%, a growing number are men. Below is a list of prominent signs to help you recognize a male suffering with an eating disorder:
• For men, eating disorders can present differently. When an adolescent appears withdrawn, silent, and unable to get out of bed or motivate himself to spend time with his friends and he doesn’t eat; these may be signs of depression and an eating disorder. Depression is the leading co-occurring disorder for males with anorexia.
• When focus is obsessive on athletic performance, muscle shape and size, you may be looking at a young man with an eating disorder.
• Defensive dieting can take control when a male is afraid that his food habits will lead him to sickness and eventual death.
• When a person is unable to communicate their needs but able to spend a lot of time with food.
• When anyone is obsessed with the fear of being too small and perceiving themselves as little and weak, this is known as Muscle Dysmorphia and closely related to eating disorder behavior.
• Substance abuse is evident in the struggle of men with eating disorders, particularly among those with binge eating disorder.
If you recognize any of these symptoms please check in with the individual and use compassion and care. Please don’t judge, offer help. You can sit with them and listen, you can promote getting help in the form of therapy, and you can reach out to a therapist for your own understanding and support. Focus on empowering him or her to seek support. Their life depends on it.