Can Men develop a bad relationship with food and exercise?
Have you crossed that fine line between fitness and obsession?
I have heard a lot recently, about men experiencing forms of Disordered Eating. I think it is all around us and I’ve noticed it more and more since the start of my recovery.
Many men participate in competitions in which their body is exhibited and judged (Body building). This may further influence a man to manipulate how he eats in attempt to achieve this “perfect body”. While some bodybuilders may not have a diagnosable eating disorder, the manners in which they eat and consume food can be considered irregular or disorderly.
Upon first glance, you probably think “No there must be hardly any men that have eating problems”
Which is what I used to think. But it turns out that it’s a bit more disguised and maybe even more acceptable in Men.
Here is a personal example:
My Partner’s best friend. At first glance, he is a healthy 32 year old man that clearly goes to the gym. He is incredibly ripped and pretty much pure muscle.
When I first met him, I was really impressed with his physique. I thought he was pretty attractive and even admirable. But on getting to know him I started to realise that he has a terrible relationship with food and exercise.
Here are just a few of his behaviours:
- Body dismorphia- He is NEVER big enough, he is constantly trying to get bigger muscles and is never happy with how he looks.
- The Gym takes priority: He never misses a workout and refuses to go on Holiday ANYWHERE unless there is a gym at the hotel.
- He binges, like proper binges. He tells me “I can’t just have one biscuit or chocolate bar, last time I had one biscuit, I lost control and ate 4 packets of biscuits, 3 doughnuts and about 6 chocolate bars.”
- He takes his own packed lunch to friend’s houses instead of eating with them.
- He refuses to eat at MOST restaurants. He only eats at suitable places with healthy foods e.g. meat grills.
- Obsession: He went to McDonalds recently to get his weekly “treat”. When he arrived, they were sold out of the toffee crisp McFlurry. He became very angry and proceeded to drive to TWO other McDonalds to find this Mcflurry. He lost his shit over a McFlurry (see illustration)
Would you consider this behaviour to be normal?
To most people, this guy just looks super fit and healthy and to some, the lifestyle even appears favourable. But actually, he is pretty fucking miserable.
Another friend at my gym, was training to compete in a body building competition. A week before the competition he had to pull out due to the strain on his mental wellbeing.
I have conducted a bit of research: there is something called Muscle dysmorphia (MD), popularly known as “bigorexia” or reverse anorexia. It is an increasingly prevalent psychiatric disease. It’s currently classified as a subtype of obsessive compulsive disorder, but some doctors feel it’s more accurately described as an eating disorder.
With Anorexia or Orthorexia, the disorders tend to have a “look”
It was obvious to my family and friends that I was over exercising and under eating, and my personality was even worse than my “haggered” (thanks mum) appearance.
But would anyone notice the same obsession with men? They look healthy and fit but what if their life has become a constant cycle of working out, eating, sleeping and planning the next meal.
What if the obsession has taken over their life and they can’t stop it?
So, if you’re a man reading this. Can you go for a few days without working out? Do you spend most of your time thinking about your meal plan? There is a fine line between fitness and obsession, make sure the lines don’t start to blur for you.
Disordered Eating can affect both Men and Women, that demon dont discriminate!
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.
And let’s face it, nobody wants to date a walking muscle machine that regularly explodes with Mcflurry fuelled rages.