The Stigma of Male Eating Disorders

What does the term “male eating disorders” mean? It stands out because eating disorders aren’t typically defined by gender. Both males and females can suffer with eating disorders of any kind. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorders, orthorexia, muscle dysmorphia, and other kinds of eating disorders or body image issues can be experienced by any sex or gender identification. However, eating disorders are more commonly stereotyped to be female issues. Females experience more physical scrutiny at a public level than men do. Men still feel pressures to obtain a certain body image in order to be considered “masculine” much in the same way women face pressures to feel “feminine”. How a man feels in his body is usually only a surface level concern. Most often, eating disorders are developed as a way to cope with unresolved issues of control. When a man is unable to control circumstances in his life, particularly outside of himself like the way someone sees or treats him, he may turn to controlling his food instead. Underlying issues of trauma, abuse, concurrent mental health disorders low self-esteem, and other problems are common causes of eating disorders. The brain becomes dependent on the routine habits of controlling, restricting, dieting, binging, purging, and obsessing about food, weight, and body image. Eventually, the eating disorder gets out of control, and life becomes unmanageable.

Managing life, having everything under control, and always being strong, are other stereotypes that men face in the masculine identity. Instead of being able to be vulnerable, weak, and ask for help, men feel that they cannot talk about their problems or admit that there is anything wrong. This added layer of shame and stigma encourages the eating disorder behaviors and enables the disordered thinking which accompanies them. Men are human beings with emotions, insecurities, fears, and doubts. The prevailing social stigmas of masculinity hinder the male ability to become fluent in their emotions and fully process their feelings. Eating disorders can be a way for males to cope with feelings which could be extreme due to a difficult past, social anxieties or any other number of reasons.

Males must know that living with an eating disorder is harmful and that help is available. Some men have described living with an eating disorder like living in the shadows. Overlooked and too often not taken seriously, men’s eating disorder issues are swept aside, leaving those who are struggling feeling helpless.


There is help for men in Ireland struggling with eating disorder issues. Smarmore Castle Private Clinic offers the utmost privacy and confidentiality for all patients. Our residential treatment programmes for eating disorders are open to men and women in need of restorative care. Returning patients to optimum health of mind, body, and spirit, our programmes are proven in recovery. For information, call to speak with one of our caring staff members today at +353 41 214 5111.

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Smarmore Castle has the facilities and staff to help you regain control of your life, request a call-back from one of our professionals today. The choice you make today could change your life forever.

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