My son was almost twelve when he entered puberty. He was very tall and thin and started to comment on how he hated being so small. He started lifting weights with his dad, which I found very endearing, but honestly I didn’t think it would last.
However, to my surprise, it does and seven years later going to the gym about four days a week has helped and kept him incredibly grounded.
But, between then and now, he certainly had eating disorders that I have seen since I also suffered as a teenager.
When I reported it to his father, he found himself saying, “I don’t think he has a feeding problem! He just wants to be strong and healthy. Besides, he’s a guy and it doesn’t just affect girls?
My son had read somewhere that in order to gain weight he had to eat a certain amount of calories. So he would do that everyday. Now that’s when it started to get scary for me. My son was so obsessed with hitting that calorie count that he tracked his food and then ironed it several times a day to make sure he was getting enough.
His world started to revolve around food and he would do a lot to eat if we went out for the family day. He would also often cancel plans with friends because they weren’t eating the kind of food he wanted to eat (a diet high in protein and carbohydrates), and they would comment on how much food he ate. .
He didn’t want their pizza or their Chinese takeout. He prepared his own meals consisting of eggs, tuna, whole milk, steak, chicken, rice, pasta, etc. Nothing could be fried and he stopped eating sugar.
While this diet sounds healthy enough, there is a difference between consistency and obsession – and my son was obsessed. The worst part was that eating so much food every day made him vomit. I told him over and over that his body rejected food because it was too much but he didn’t listen.
He got angry and insisted on eating only large amounts of certain foods and it was so hard to see him forcing himself to eat. It became a huge burden on him, something he now admits.
Messy eating has many faces. It’s not just about starving yourself or stuffing yourself and purging yourself. The Mayo Clinic reports, “Eating disorders are serious conditions related to persistent eating behaviors that negatively impact your health, emotions, and your ability to function in important areas of life.
Leslie Heinberg, PhD, vice president for psychology, Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, said The Cleveland Clinic“One of the most common misconceptions about eating disorders is that it is a disease of the young white woman. The truth is, eating disorders can affect any gender, race, or age. Indeed, men represent 25% eating disorders case. ”
Eating disorders or eating disorders are not just a problem that women struggle with – boys and men can suffer from eating disorders as well. In reality, Healthline Reports over 10 million men and boys are struggling in the United States.
What we need to remember is that the images we see in the media, regardless of our age or gender, are the same we all see and there are times when those perfect, tanned, toned bodies can trigger any of us.
For my son, he wanted to gain muscle mass and be really tall and muscular. For others, they want to be thin. And just as frightening as the eating disorder itself, because many boys and men strive to be “fitter” or more muscular, these symptoms are often overlooked.
Healthline reports that it is because “it is socially acceptable for boys to want to gain muscle and spend a lot of time in the gym, parents and healthcare professionals are less likely to recognize when this behavior becomes unhealthy.
It is imperative to look for signs such as your child distancing himself from his friends because of food, becoming obsessed with certain things he does not eat, or insisting on exercising even if he is injured or ill. . According to Healthline, these are all signs of an eating disorder and should be taken as such.
Sports are another factor in how eating disorders and body image affect our boys. They have a lot of pressure to win and perform, and some sports even force them to lose weight, which can quickly become an obsession.
Pediatrics in the Capital Region suggests that you try the following things if you think your son may be developing an eating disorder: Talk to them, make sure you do your research on eating disorders, don’t put yourself down or talk about your weight in front of them, and finally get them professional help.
“Your child’s primary care physician may be able to recommend a mental health counselor with experience in eating disorders. The sooner you seek help for your child, the less likely their eating disorder will get worse, ”explains Pediatrics in the Capital Region.
While certain habits, like exercise and healthy eating, can be a great anchor for our children, it is important as parents to take note when it becomes an obsession and affects the lives of our children.
Regardless of the gender of your child, it’s important to note that society and the media can dictate how they feel about their bodies, and eating disorders can affect anyone.