I specialize in the following three areas with male clients:
For a more detailed overview of men and eating disorders, please read this article I wrote on the subject.
Gay Men and Eating Disorders
About half of my male clients with eating disorders identify as gay. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), gay men face unique challenges that may put them at greater risk of developing an eating disorder:
- Fear of rejection or experience of rejections by friends, family, and co-workers
- Internalized negative messages/beliefs about oneself due to sexual orientation, non-normative gender expressions, or transgender identity
- Experiences of violence and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which research shows sharply increases vulnerability to an eating disorder
- Discrimination due to one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity
- Being a victim of bullying due to one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity
- Discordance between one’s biological sex and gender identity
- Inability to meet body image ideals within some LGBTQ+ cultural contexts
Stats on gay men with eating disorders
- In one study, gay and bisexual boys reported being significantly more likely to have fasted, vomited, or taken laxatives or diet pills to control their weight in the last 30 days.
- Gay males are thought to only represent 5% of the total male population but among males who have eating disorders, 42% identify as gay.
- Gay males were seven times more likely to report binging and 12 times more likely to report purging than heterosexual males.
Men and Compulsive Overeating
The other half of my male clients with eating disorders struggle with compulsive overeating; otherwise known as Binge Eating Disorder (BED). Many of these men are significantly overweight and full of shame and self-loathing. Binge eating is almost as high in men as in women- 40% vs. 60%, unlike anorexia and bulimia sufferers where 75% are female and 25% are male.
The following information about Binge Eating Disorder (BED) comes from an eating disorder information site:
What is Binge Eating Disorder (BED)?
Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is also known as compulsive overeating and consists of consuming abnormal amounts of food while feeling unable to stop and a loss of control.
Signs & Symptoms of BED
- Continually eating even when full
- Inability to stop eating or control what is eaten
- Stockpiling food to consume secretly at a later time
- Eating normally in the presence of others but gorging when isolated
- Experiencing feelings of stress or anxiety that can only be relieved by eating
- Feelings of numbness or lack of sensation while bingeing
- Never experiencing satiation: the state of being satisfied, no matter the amount of food consumed
While twice as many women struggle with anxiety and depression then men, men struggle too with these issues. I am willing to bet that the reason the current statistics show such a huge gap between the sexes is because women are much more likely than their male counterparts to report and seek help for emotional problems. The fact is that in a still predominantly patriarchal culture, it’s permissible for women to seek help for emotional difficulties, whereas men are told to “suck it up” and be tough instead.
Luckily, things are changing in this area and it is now becoming acceptable for the sexes to be more fluid rather than locked into traditional sex role stereotypes. Increasingly, more men than ever before are seeking therapy to decrease their emotional suffering and learn effective tools to feel better and function at their highest level.
If I was to sum up my work into one particular specialty, I would have to say that I mainly work to help Highly Sensitive People (or HSPs) to understand their temperament, embrace their gifts, and find ways to thrive in a world which is designed for and dominated by non-HSPs.
For an excellent personal account of what it’s like to be an HSP man, read this article.