Eating Disorder Recovery in Men
This is the final article of the four-part series Men and Eating Disorders. Read part three, How Eating Disorders in Men Are Treated.
Treatment is essential for recovery from an eating disorder. But because eating disorders in men are under-diagnosed—and many men are reluctant to seek help for an eating disorder anyway—only a fraction of eating disorders in men are professionally treated.
Why Many Men Don’t Seek Help for an Eating Disorder
Men face a double stigma when it comes to getting help for an eating disorder.
One major reason why men are far less likely than women to seek treatment for an eating disorder is cultural bias. Because the general public’s perception is that eating disorders in men are rare, and that disordered eating is a female problem or a gay male problem, men with an eating disorder are likely to hide their disorder to avoid being labeled or stigmatized.
Men also face stigma surrounding seeking psychological help. Complex issues underlie eating disorders in men, and addressing these issues is crucial for successful recovery. But deeply ingrained cultural norms say that men who need psychological help are weak and that men shouldn’t show their emotions. It may take time before some men are able to open up during therapy and verbally express their emotions, which they often don’t have words for.
Relapse of Eating Disorders in Men
If an individual in recovery from an eating disorder falls back into old, dysfunctional thought and behavior patterns, a relapse of the eating disorder is likely. But a relapse isn’t the end of recovery, and it doesn’t mean treatment didn’t work. Eating disorders in men aren’t easy to overcome, and it can take time to develop the skills needed to stay in recovery for good.
Men who relapse are likely to be very hard on themselves, but this can prevent them from getting back on track with recovery. Approaching a relapse with a positive attitude, keeping in mind the progress that’s been made so far, will help ensure ongoing recovery. Professional help after a relapse helps individuals develop the missing skills that led to it.
Successful Recovery Tips for Eating Disorders in Men
Eating disorders in men take hard work to overcome, but the hard work is worth the peace of mind and stable emotional state that come from it.
Here are some tips to help promote recovery from eating disorders in men.
Practice good self-care. A high level of self-care is crucial for recovery, especially in eating disorders in men. Get plenty of sleep and adequate exercise, and spend some of your day relaxing and having a good time.
Stay mindful. Being mindful of emotional states is crucial for recovery from eating disorders in men. Stay in tune with your thoughts, feelings and emotions, and withhold self-judgment.
Seek out supportive people. Support from friends and family is essential for successful recovery from an eating disorder, while toxic relationships are detrimental to recovery and should be ended or avoided. Surround yourself with supportive people who love you.
Redefine yourself. Separating yourself from your eating disorder and developing a new self-identity will help promote successful recovery. Find some enjoyable hobbies to engage in, develop relationships with people who make you feel good about yourself and make good decisions according to your values.
Eating disorders in men are treatable, and the sooner treatment starts, the better the outcome. Treatment works, and it can work for you.
Download this entire series as a fully illustrated eBook, Men and Eating Disorders