Eating Disorders and Men
Counselling in Perth
Eating disorders (ED) are often misunderstood to be an issue that only women experience. This is not true – although the majority of people with eating disorders are female, men have eating disorders too! Statistics estimate that in 2012 approximately 4% of the Australian population had an eating disorder, of which 36% were male1. Additionally, studies are showing that there are equal numbers of males and females with Binge Eating Disorder.
Most EDs start with dissatisfaction of body image. Women are dissatisfied with the amount they weigh and want to lose weight, whilst men are dissatisfied with their physique and want to change this.
Sports such as wrestling and body building, and employment such as jockey or personal trainer, appear to increase the risk for men to develop an ED because physique and muscle definition play an important role, which may lead to abnormal beliefs about food, eating and exercise.
How can a psychologist or counsellor help with an eating disorder or disordered eating?
Treatment is similar for men as it is for women. A psychologist can provide counselling to deal directly with the emotional and behavioural aspects of the ED, as well as other co-morbid issues such as depression and anxiety often associated with ED. The most common forms of psychological therapy for ED is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT).
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
CBT specifically for Eating Disorders (CBT-E) has been shown to be an effective treatment in adults when emotional dysregulation is the precursor to the ED. This type of therapy addresses thoughts (cognitions), feelings, and behaviours directly, with treatment focussing on:
- Normalising eating – set up a regular eating routine
- Reducing or eliminating abnormal eating behaviour
- Reducing or eliminating any avoidance of specific foods or strict dieting
- Reducing eating due to mood or event triggers
- Exploring core beliefs about body image and the self
- Exploring fears relating to weight (loss) and body shape
- Exploring self-esteem
- Increasing a sense of self-control
- Increasing self-awareness of normal, healthy appetite cues
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)
DBT for binge eating teaches skills for emotional regulation and distress tolerance – alternatives to abnormal eating.
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- Butterfly Foundation. (2012). Paying the price: the economic and social impact of eating disorders in Australia. Melbourne: Butterfly Foundation.