Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder — and many who have it are men. If that surprises you, you’re not alone. People often see eating disorders as a woman’s health concern. But guys get them too. About 40% of those with binge eating disorder are men.
“Men absolutely do struggle with eating, food, and body image. That’s often assumed to not be the case,” says Tom Wooldridge, PsyD. He’s the co-executive director of The National Association of Males with Eating Disorders.
According to Wooldridge, “With increased awareness, more and more men will get a correct diagnosis — and that diagnosis is the first step into treatment.”
Binge Eating: Men vs. Women
People don’t discuss this disorder in men as openly as for women, so many guys with the condition don’t know they have it. Or they think it can’t, or shouldn’t, happen to them.
Only about 1 in 10 men with an eating disorder seek care from a mental health provider. Doctors say this means the number of men with eating disorders might be higher than they think.
If you have binge eating disorder, you’re likely to:
Regularly eat a lot of food in a short period of time (under 2 hours)
Keep eating, even when you’re already full
Eat very quickly
Hide food and eat alone, in secret
Feel out of control when you eat
Eat at all times of the day, rather than at three regular meals
Feel guilty or disgusted after you overeat
If you notice any of these signs, call this office. Treatment can help you learn why you binge and show you how to approach food in a healthier way.
Why Men Binge Eat
They do it for many of the same reasons that women do. Poor body image is one common trigger. Like women, many men are unhappy with the way they look.
Women usually want to get thinner, like celebrities and models they see on TV. Men often want the toned, athletic body that society says is needed to make them more competitive in sports, work, and romantic relationships. This can drive some men to unhealthy eating habits, including binge eating.
Men might also binge eat because they:
Want to be in control
Can express feelings, through food, that they have a hard time talking about
Want to numb emotions they can’t control
Treatment for Men
First, acknowledge that you might have an eating disorder. It takes strength to do that. It doesn’t mean you’re weak. The sooner you start treatment, the more likely you’ll be able to get back on track. Some physicians don’t always check for the signs of an eating disorder, so speak up if you’re concerned that you have one. Ask for help.
Once you see your physician and a mental health professional, you’ll be able to understand the reasons you’re bingeing.
Eating disorder support groups and treatment centers can be helpful. There are several options in the South Florida area where you’ll be able to find the best help for you to reach your goal of normalizing your relationship with food.