Posts Tagged ‘Males’

How can Gyms and Coaches Recognize an Eating Disorder?

Student Athletes

Eating disorders are brain-based illnesses involving food and body that are severe and can become life-threatening. These illnesses typically involve food restriction or overconsumption, body image issues, and altered food behaviors like eating in secret or skipping meals. Eating disorders also frequently include compensatory behaviors like overexercising, which puts gym and coaches in a unique spot to catch eating disorders. In order for gyms and coaches to successfully recognize and address eating disorders, they must first be aware of their common signs and symptoms.

Eating Disorder Signs and Symptoms

Eating disorders are serious illnesses that affect eating habits and desires and cause severe distress about food, weight, size, and shape. Eating disorders can affect anyone, regardless of their gender, race, age, or any other demographic categorization. The five types of eating disorders include anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, OSFED, and ARFID. Signs and symptoms of eating disorders that gyms and coaches may be able to spot include:

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Episode 11: Ken’s Recovery Story

Episode description:

Ken Capobianco is an award-winning music critic whose work has appeared in The Boston Globe, Billboard, The New York Times, and many more publications. While immersed in the rock and roll music scene, Ken found himself struggling with severe anorexia—for 30 years. Despite living with a severe eating disorder for all of those years, Ken found eating disorder recovery and wrote a book about his experience.

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How do Eating Disorders Present in Males?

Doctor writing on clipboard

As a field, we are beginning to understand that males are at a high-risk for eating disorders and that it is crucial to understand how males present with eating disorders and how we can treat them. Realizing that men have eating disorders is extraordinarily important. Eating disorders are serious and potentially life-threatening and unfortunately, they are often overlooked and trivialized.

The reality of the eating disorder world is that the diagnoses of eating disorders have historically been based on women. Studies to define what eating disorders are have been done primarily with women. The criteria used to describe eating disorders has been normed to women. The professional field is primarily women and treatment is often designed with a gender bias.  However, we are very aware that men can get eating disorders and that more men are presenting with symptoms and entering treatment. As a result, we have a lot of work to do to truly understand how males present with eating disorders.

To give an example of how eating disorder treatment is normed to women, we can look at current eating disorder screening tests. Typically, there are statements such as these where a client can answer yes or no.

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The Ballad of a Thin Man with Anorexia

Ken Capobianco

This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences on their own path to recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors or symptom use. Please use your own discretion. And speak with your therapist when needed.

Ken Capobianco is the author of the novel Call Me Anorexic: The Ballad of a Thin Man. He has written about pop music and the arts for over 30 years. He also taught literature and writing at Northeastern University and journalism at Emerson College in Boston. He lives in Long Beach, California with his wife, Ratanan.

When I shopped my novel about a twenty-something anorexic male to agents, the most common questions I received were, “Did you make this male anorexic aspect up for drama’s sake?” and “Male anorexia is not a thing, is it?” This ignorance or lack of awareness did not surprise me because I’d encountered it throughout my life as a professional journalist and a college professor. You see, I suffered from severe, life-threatening anorexia for 30 years, and if I ever even hinted to people I had anorexia, I always heard, “No you don’t. You’re a guy. Be a man.”

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