14 Jul 2014
Eating disorders are typically thought of as women’s issues, but the truth is that men deal with these serious problems too. The struggle is sometimes worse for men because of the extra stigma attached to being a man who has food issues. Among the recognized eating disorders, binge eating is one that many men battle. Sometimes also referred to as food addiction, this disorder involves compulsive eating and usually also causes weight gain. If you are a man who binges on food, you are not alone and there is help for you.
What Is Binge Eating Disorder?
Binge eating disorder, or BED, is called food addiction too because it is a lot like an addiction. It is characterized by out-of-control eating binges, obsessive thoughts about eating, and feelings of guilt and shame associated with binges. Like drug or alcohol addicts you probably turn to food to cope with emotions. Maybe you eat because of stress. It could also be anxiety or depression that triggers your eating binges.
BED is more common than other eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. One in 35 Americans struggles with binge eating. This statistic amounts to around five million women and three million men. While anorexia and bulimia are much more common in women than in men, BED is not rare in the male population.
Being A Man With An Eating Disorder
Having an eating disorder means coping with a difficult mental illness. In the case of BED, it also means dealing with addictive-like behaviors. Add to this being a man, and your battle becomes even greater. Women are more likely to get help for an eating disorder, while men are more likely to be in denial because of the added stigma. The statistics should assure you that you are not alone and that you are far from the only man dealing with binge eating. Here are some ways to help you cope and heal from your food addiction:
- Get Professional Help – If you can’t control yourself around food, you will never get better without the help of an experienced professional. It isn’t easy to ask for this help and you may feel embarrassed or ashamed to admit to your problem. It may help you to work with a male therapist, but make sure he has experience working with binge eaters.
- Find Support – One of the most important ways to successfully heal from an addictive disorder is to rely on the support of others. Overeating and binge eating support groups that are similar to AA are available. You should be able to find one that caters to men to make you feel more comfortable. If you can’t find a group in your area, look for online support groups for men with eating disorders.
- Stop Eating Alone – Binges typically occur when you are alone. Because of shame and embarrassment you are more likely to control yourself around other people. In addition to the support and professional help you get, force yourself to always eat with other people around. This will help you to control your urges.
- Replace Binges With Healthy Activities – Without eating binges to indulge in, you may be left with a void. Fill that hole with new and healthy activities. Exercise is a great choice because it will help you lose weight and give you more confidence. Any kind of hobby or new interest is a good way to replace your food binges.
Binge eating disorder is not easy to cope with for anyone. But as a man you face the added stigma of being a male with an eating problem. It’s time to face your fears and get the professional help you need. With the right therapist, support from other men and your own strength, you can conquer binge eating.
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