Why We Need to Talk About Male* Eating Disorders (Guest Post by Molly Fennig)

*Individuals who identify as male

As an athlete who had trouble recognizing her eating disorder, I (Rachael Steil) can only imagine how tough it can be for men who struggle with eating disorders to identify what they’re going through and get the help they deserve. Molly Fennig, author of Starvation (a novel about a guy struggling with an eating disorder), shares more about male eating disorder misconceptions here.

1. They’re more prevalent than you think.

Depending on the study, up to 40% of individuals with eating disorders are male.

In fact, up to 19% of male athletes have an eating disorder (Bratland-Sanda & Sundgot-Borgen, 2012). Unsurprisingly, sports that promote leanness, either through weight classes (ie wrestling) or increased efficiency (ie distance running) have higher rates of eating disorders.

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[Dumpster] Diving Into Male Eating Disorders: Matt’s Story & Recovery

Several years after I graduated from high school, and well into recovering from my eating disorder, I heard about a guy running cross country at my high school who had developed anorexia. From afar I yearned to help him. But not knowing exactly who he was, and not wanting to overstep boundaries, I heard updates about him from afar. I was thankful when I heard he was getting the help he deserved.

Little did I know that around that time, Matt had found the Running in Silence website. I eventually found Matt’s recovery story online through the Daily Mail. Soon after, we found each other through social media and participated in an event during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He agreed to connect further through the interviews I recorded with him below.

Facing the Stigma: Living with an Eating Disorder as a Man

I am honored to introduce Steve Sanders for our next guest post. Steve is a recovering alcoholic , writer, and blogger at Haven House Addiction Treatment. He lives in Los Angeles, California and enjoys spending time with his family and on his motorcycle when not writing. He can be reached at oneroadtorecovery@gmail.com

The typical image of a person with an eating disorder is a woman, or more specifically a white teenage girl from a well-off family. Almost all the popular information available about eating disorders is aimed at women and is about women.

But studies suggest that about 10 million men and boys in the U.S. will have an eating order at some point in their lives. In fact, while anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are more common in women, men are at greater risk of developing a binge eating disorder (overeating without purging or otherwise compensating for the excessive food intake).

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Eating Disorders Prey on Men, Too

If you can imagine how tough it is for women to be open about their eating disorders, just imagine how tough it is for men. I recently asked a follower to share his experience here on the blog. I encourage anyone who struggles with an eating disorder or disordered eating to speak up when you feel ready–even if it’s just by letting it out through this blog. Feel free to reach out to me at runninginsilence@gmail.com.

I found Rachael and her blog a year ago, and every now and then we’ve talked about our eating disorders, specifically in the realm of raw food and bingeing. Like her, I don’t particularly fit the descriptions of bulimia, anorexia, or binge eating. At this point in my ED, I sway between binge eating and orthorexia. The 80-10-10 diet is always my fallback after a long 1 or 2 week bingeing episode.

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A Mother’s Struggle to Free Her Son from Anorexia (Guest Post by Bev Mattocks)

I’d like to introduce a guest blogger Bev Mattocks. I first discovered her blog about three months ago, only to find out that it was a blog-turned-book. I was able to read Mattock’s book, Please Eat… A Mother’s Struggle to Free Her Teenage Son from Anorexia. It helped to see the struggle from the perspective of a parent, especially as my own parents have learned to deal with my eating disorder.

In the second chapter of my book Please Eat… A Mother’s Struggle To Free Her Teenage Son From Anorexia I describe my pride at watching my 15-year son, Ben, win the 1500 metre race at the school sports day in July 2009. At the time Ben (who lives in the UK) was into a whole range of sports, not just running. Then, over the summer of 2009, his sporting activities got even more intense. He was swimming, running, and working out at a local gym every day – and more. With this came a whole new dedication to ‘healthy eating’, especially fat-free food. Ben quickly became an expert at slimming down recipes, cutting out the ‘baddies’ from his diet, and examining the nutritional content of food packaging in microscopic detail.

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