All anyone has to do is take a look at television, film and the media to know that eating disorders like bulimia nervosa affect women of all ages. But despite the common stereotype that only women can develop eating disorders, men develop them as well. In the US alone, more than 10 million men will experience an eating disorder in their lifetime. This is just one of the reasons that bulimia nervosa recovery programs for males are so important.
What Is Bulimia Nervosa?
Bulimia nervosa is a very serious and potentially life-threatening eating disorder. It is characterized by an ongoing cycle of binge-eating and purging behaviors that are used to compensate for calories consumed. When people begin the cycle of binging and purging, they typically eat a large amount of food within a short period of time. It’s common for people to experience a lack of self-control while binge-eating, as well as feelings of shame or disgust. Once they have finished eating, they will then turn to compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting, laxative use, fasting, excessive exercise and/or the use of diuretics.
Unlike other common eating disorders, people with bulimia nervosa may not show any outward signs of their condition. In fact, many men who have bulimia nervosa are often able to maintain what their doctors would believe is a “healthy” weight for their age, height, and stature. This can make identifying bulimia nervosa symptoms much more difficult for parents and other family members.
What Are the Signs of Bulimia Nervosa?
Early intervention is very important for successful bulimia nervosa treatment but without a better understanding of the symptoms, many loved ones don’t recognize there is a problem until the condition has progressed. To help loved ones have the best chance at long-term, successful bulimia nervosa recovery, loved ones should educate themselves to recognize the symptoms of an eating disorder. Some of the most common signs of bulimia nervosa include:
- Frequent trips to the bathroom after mealtime, the sounds or smells of vomiting, the presence of laxative wrappers or packages of diuretics
- Skipping meals or only taking small portions at mealtime
- Drinking excessive amounts of water or low-cal drinks
- Fear or embarrassment surrounding eating in public or with others
- Hiding or hoarding food
- Developing food rituals that may include excessive chewing, not allowing food groups to touch and eating foods in a specific order
- Thinning hair, dry skin, brittle nails and general muscle weakness
- Tooth problems including cavities, yellow or discolored tooth and enamel erosion (typically a result of frequently inducing vomiting)
- Withdrawal from friends and social commitments, depression, and anxiety
Differences for Men with Bulimia Nervosa Symptoms
Before searching for the right bulimia nervosa treatment program, families also need to better understand the unique challenges that men with eating disorders face. Many men with bulimia nervosa excessively exercise to expend lots of calories in a short period of time. This seemingly “healthy” habit can also help to disguise an eating disorder because people who work out a lot are often seen to be stronger, bigger and healthier. Additionally, men may be less likely to speak up about their bulimia nervosa due to the stigma that “men don’t have eating disorders” or that having one may feel emasculating.
The need to achieve the “ideal” body shape can lead to feelings of low self-esteem and depression too. And studies also suggest that men with eating disorders have a higher mortality rate than women, making early intervention critical.
Bulimia Nervosa Treatment at Oliver Pyatt Centers
Just like women, men can develop an eating disorder at any stage in life. But the fear of seeming different or “less masculine” shouldn’t prevent them from seeking treatment. For more information regarding bulimia nervosa recovery for men, call 866.511.4325 or contact us online today.