Eating disorders affect millions around the world and sadly are on the rise for many reasons. The NHS Digital figures had shown an increase of 37 percent across all age groups at the start of January 2020 and recent events could intensify the problem.

It was reported in 2019 that a quarter of the hospital admissions were children aged 18 and under, with the most common age for anorexia between the ages of 13 and 15.

In adults it varies with recent statistics suggesting 6.4 percent of all adults display signs of an eating disorder.

Recently I had a conversation with a close male friend who is suffering from an eating disorder. He kindly let me detail and share our conversation but wished to be kept anonymous.

We started our conversation catching up on everyday life but eventually I left him to tell me how he was feeling in himself. He expressed that he had been feeling extremely body conscious to the point where it was making him feel emotional and also affecting his mental health.

As he was discussing the reasoning and the background of why he felt this way, it was clear that this was something that has been developing over many years and was triggered by something that occurred during his teenage years, to be exact.

To an outsider he always seemed to be having fun and had a happy lifestyle throughout his childhood years. He always had friends, always seemed to have partners and as a grown adult he has been very successful, which has taken him all over the world. But this disorder within him has never left.

Anorexic man looking worried into mirror
Anorexic man looking worried into mirror

He expressed he will “excessively exercise and not eat as much as he should because he is trying to make sure that he keeps his body fat under a certain percentage,” when in reality I don’t think he has 1% of body fat on his body.

When I confronted him about this as a friend and someone who cares for his well-being, he admitted that it wasn’t right and that he is going to seek professional help as he “can’t seem to shake it from his mindset”.

In today’s society there is sadly a huge stigma around body image that gets heightened by social media platforms. But many people don’t maybe realise that these disorders affect men just as much as they affect woman. And men need to be made aware that it is okay to talk and to seek professional help, as some may still have the ‘Old School’ mentality and need a little more encouragement to open up.

Since our first initial conversation where he opened up to me, my friend has been seeking professional guidance. Due to recent restrictions across the word he has been conducting sessions virtually and expressed he is “already starting to feel like a new person and a weight is slowly lifting off his shoulders”. He knows that this is not going to be an overnight fix, it’s a gradual process, but he is already feeling the positive effects that will only develop further.

He stated “I know it’s all within my mind. Mine and everybody’s minds are a powerful thing. It’s just learning to override the thoughts and carry on pushing forward”.

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What is an eating disorder?

An eating disorder is when a person’s eating habits and relationship with food becomes extremely challenging and difficult.  

What are the types of eating disorders?

The two most common forms of eating disorder are:

*Anorexia nervosa (very little or no food intake at all and/or extreme exercise)

*Bulimia nervosa (binge eating with excessive vomiting after any food intake)

What can cause an eating disorder?

There is no specific answer as to why someone can develop an eating disorder. There are personal, physiological and genetic factors.

How do you treat an eating disorder?

Treating eating disorders can be more challenging than people think, as it is a psychological issue.

Seeking professional therapy to address underlying problems that maybe encourage the disorder is the most popular and most effective approach.

Medication, such as antidepressant drugs can also help with Bulimia nervosa.

If you feel you or someone close to you may have an eating disorder the NHS has support services in your area.

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