Based on studies produced by the National Eating Disorders Association and other organizations, binge eating disorder is a common and possibly life-threatening form of eating disorder. The symptoms include recurring binge eating episodes (where the individual eats uncontrollably), feeling shame or distress following the episode and secrecy about the actions and feelings that come with it.
The occurrence of most types of eating disorder among males has been much lower than females. In recent years, however, awareness has been raised about eating disorders in men, which is commonly underreported. While women are generally diagnosed with eating disorders at a much higher rate than men, binge eating disorder is much more balanced between the genders. According to Psycom, 40 percent of binge eating disorder patients are male. Although the physical symptoms are generally the same in the long run, there are differences in how BED affects men and women in the short term.
How Is Binge Eating Disorder Different for Men?
Although it’s a stereotype, there is some truth to the concept that men are less likely to talk about emotions than women. All too often, men may perceive being open about their feelings as weakness and may be more likely to hide their problems. This leads to certain complicating factors for men who have developed a case of BED. These might include:
- Waiting Longer to Ask for Help – Men are more likely to wait before admitting there’s an issue, even to themselves. They’re often prone to think asking for help is a sign of weakness and will try to manage their disordered behavior alone, which often worsens the issue.
- Avoiding the Issue Entirely – Males are more likely to practice avoidance behaviors such as avoiding the scale or the doctor’s office. Women, however, are more likely to become compulsive about weighing themselves and trying to fit into certain clothes.
- Decreased Sexual Function – The inability to perform sexually is more pronounced in overweight men than the same group of women. Binge eating disorder symptoms such as obesity and blood pressure issues for males can affect sexual functioning negatively.
What Are Some of the Causes of BED in Men?
There are several kinds of triggers that cause both males and females to engage in binge eating episodes. The following are some of the triggers that most often affect males and cause disordered eating patterns:
- Restrictive Dieting and Poor Body Image – Males that try to maintain a restrictive eating plan are more susceptible to “cheating” on their diet with large amounts of unhealthy food. Research has shown that in contrast to women with eating disorders, who feel that they’re “fat” but are often an appropriate weight, men will often actually be overweight before symptoms of a disorder become apparent.
- Prior Trauma – Males sometimes have experienced traumatic events in their lives that can lead the kind of compulsive eating that defines BED. It’s not just soldiers for whom PTSD can affect –bullying is sometimes an ongoing trauma that can cause young boys and men to develop BED.
- Internalized Emotions — As mentioned before, for cultural and possible biological reasons, men are less likely to talk about their feelings with others. People who have difficulty with emotional communication may internalize their emotions, causing them to turn to food for comfort.
What Are the Symptoms of BED?
The following are some of the binge eating disorder symptoms for both men and women.
- Eating even if they’re not hungry.
- Eating past the point of physical comfort.
- Eating extremely quickly.
- Feeling of guilt, shame, or depression after binge eating.
- Major weight gain or weight fluctuation.
- Medical symptoms of obesity, like high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Seeking Treatment for Males
The stereotype of eating disorders as only affecting young women makes it harder for men with BED and other eating disorders to both admit there is a problem and to seek out treatment for it. However, there is more and more help available as these stereotypes are broken. Anyone seeking treatment for binge eating disorder should contact a BED treatment center for more information.