Word on Health

Word On Manorexia

Our thanks to the charity Beat for their input into this weeks 'on-air' report on eating disorders in men and for the use of the support material below. Click here to visit their website. 

Men Get Eating Disorders Too is an award-winning national charity run by and for men with eating disorders including their carers and families. Click here to visit their website for further information, help and support.  

So what is an eating disorder?  It's a classic misconception that eating disorders only affect teenage girls! Boys, girls, men and women from all types of background and ethnic groups suffer from eating disorders. Estimates suggest up to a quarter of people with an eating disorder are male.

Whatever age or gender, eating disorders are a way of coping with feelings that are making the person unhappy or depressed. It may be difficult to face up to and talk about feelings like anger, sadness, guilt, loss or fear. An eating disorder is a sign that a person needs help in coping with life, and sorting personal problems.

Anorexia Nervosa  

Physical signs severe weight loss, hormonal changes in men and boys, periods stopping (Amenorrhoea) in women, difficulty sleeping, dizziness, stomach pains, constipation, poor circulation & feeling cold.

Behavioural signs wanting to be left alone, wearing big baggy clothes, excessive exercising, lying about eating meals, denying there is a problem, difficulty concentrating, wanting to have control.

Psychological signs intense fear of gaining weight, depressed, feeling emotional, obsession with dieting, mood swings, distorted perception of body weight & size.

Bulimia Nervosa

Physical signs a sore throat, swollen glands, stomach pains, mouth infections, irregular periods, dry or poor skin, difficulty sleeping, sensitive or damaged teeth.

Behavioural signs eating large quantities of food, being sick after eating, being secretive.

Psychological signs feeling ashamed, depressed and guilty, feeling out of control, mood swings.

Conditions as complex as eating disorders mean that there are variations in the typical signs, and not all symptoms will apply to all people. You may feel that you have a mixture of anorexia and bulimia, or alternate between them. Some people also find they are affected by an urge to harm themselves or abuse alcohol or drugs.

Even if you don't have these symptoms if you are worried and upset by something, anything, it is important you find someone to talk to. Please don't bottle it all up.

Eating disorders do not include food allergies, selective eating issues or disorders of the digestive system.  However, a G.P should be the first point of call for these issues as well as for eating disorders.

How do I know if I have an eating disorder?

  • Does food occupy your thoughts day and night?
  • Do you feel fear anger, guilt or shame when faced with food?
  • Do you feel alone in your struggle with food or/and your weight?
  • Do you think about weight, shape and the amount you eat all the time?
  • Do you feel if you lost weight you’d be happier, more successful and accepted?
  • Do you have a weight you aim for but can’t achieve?
  • Do you constantly use scales to check your weight?
  • Are you critical of yourself all the time and feel you should do better or do more?
  • Do you exercise all the time to burn off the calories you have eaten?
  • Do you feel depressed and low about yourself and use food as a way of coping with these feelings?

If you have answered YES to any of the above questions it is possible you may have an eating disorder.

Where to get help seeing a GP can be a good start. It is important to have the correct diagnosis. Your doctor can refer you to specialist professionals like psychiatrists, psychologists, dieticians, nutritionists, and counsellors - it may not be possible to access this support without seeing a doctor. If seeing a doctor is difficult perhaps you could talk to the practice nurse or someone that you trust.

Psychiatrists have initial training in general medicine and have then specialised in the diagnosis, treatment and the prevention of mental, emotional and behavioural disorders. Psychiatrists have the right to prescribe medication because they are trained physicians.

Psychologists specialise in the way the brain works and how we think and feel about things.

Dieticians have studied the scientific effects of food and nutrition on the body and is able to give advice on issues relating to food and eating habits. Whilst it is important to regain a normal eating pattern, it is important to treat the underlying emotional difficulties too.

Counsellors have had specialist training to work with people to help them resolve their difficulties without judging. There are many different types of counselling approaches.  The British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy is the professional body who oversee all registered counsellors.

Cognitive behavioural therapy aims to help individuals to understand what triggers certain behaviours. It involves recognising that you are thinking in a negative way and changing your thought processes. The therapist works with this information to help the person to change. All of our feelings are a response to a thought. If the thought is negative, the resulting feelings will be negative - sadness or depression. If you can change the negative thoughts into positive ones, the resulting feeling should be good rather than bad.

Friends & family can be of great support in helping people cope with their illness.

Self-help groups provide a place to share feelings with others who have similar experiences. Visit both the Men Get Eating Disorders Too and Beat websites for more information. 

Self-help books can offer more of an insight into the illness and also offer step by step guide to help on the road to recovery.

Internet the internet can be a valuable source of information about eating disorders and facilities and services available. Message boards and chat rooms can be used to provide and receive support for each other. Although this can be an easy and safe way of gaining support, it cannot replace personal and individual help and support. The web cannot replace contact with a GP or counsellor.

Recovery - Is it possible?  YES!!  Recovering from an eating disorder can be a long and difficult process for everyone involved.  Some people believe that they will always have to guard against using food in a destructive way whereas many others know that they will never again be drawn into this type of coping mechanism. Therefore, over time it is possible to gain new confidence and begin to realise there are other ways of coping.

Listen to this weeks radio report

All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.