Eating disorders occur when an individual becomes addicted to damaging behavior regarding food and weight. For example, in the case of anorexia, people become addicted to restricting their caloric intake and losing weight. The common belief is that mainly women suffer from this type of addiction – eating disorders are still thought of as a female disease – and statistics reflect this with only 1 in 10 disordered individuals being male. However, a growing amount of men are coming forward with eating disorders and it’s thought that this number is inaccurate due to the shame surrounding eating disorders in men preventing them from asking for help.
How are eating disorders addictive?
If you see an old friend or relative you haven’t seen in a long time and they comment on the fact you’ve lost weight, more often than not, this will fill you with confidence and you’ll take this as a compliment. To an already disordered brain, which is obsessed with losing weight, this compliment is magnified. In addition, starvation itself has also been found to be addictive. The sufferer gets a feeling of elation and euphoria from ‘succeeding’ for another day. When your body – and brain – are in a state of starvation, you’re not thinking clearly and this ‘high’ feeling tricks the individual into thinking they feel good.
Why do men get eating disorders?
It’s often thought that, because society tells men they should be large and muscular, that they can’t possible enjoy getting smaller. However, it’s becoming more and more apparent that they can and the percentage of anorexia sufferers who are male is much closer to 20% – double what was previously thought. This could be because, although men are told they should be big, they are also told they should have low body fat percentages in order to see each muscle; it’s thought that this need to have low body fat is what can contribute to the development of eating disorders in men.