There are two types of people in this world, those who’ve experienced body image issues, and wizards. Most millennials and Gen Xers grew up looking at one type of body gracing TV screens, runways and magazine covers. And while those bodies were beautiful, other bodies can also be lovely.
In the twenty-first century, approximately 1 million Canadians are living with eating disorders. While not all disorders are the same (some involve anorexia, while others are more about binge-eating), they all cause suffering. According to the National Eating Disorders Association in the United States, men make up 15% of cases including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. Excessive exercising and use of sometimes dangerous supplements are other ways that these issues can manifest. Men also “may face ‘harsher stigmatization from their peers or go undiagnosed’ because of the stereotype that anorexia nervosa is a ‘female’ disorder.”
Everyone Needs Something Different
As frustrating as it sounds, no two people are alike. For example, compiling food journals about what you ate and how it made you feel is effective for some; however, Jacob found food journals fruitless. Help your partner discover what sort of strategies and support are best for them, rather than scouring the internet for tips and imposing unsolicited advice.
Never Shame Someone For Their Eating Disorder
Eating disorders are not character flaws. You wouldn’t shame your partner for having cancer (At least we hope you wouldn’t), so please don’t think an eating disorder is any different. If you’ve never had an eating disorder, you may assume overcoming one is simple, but check yourself! As much as we want to see a sick loved one miraculously cured of their disordered eating, it will probably take time. Never make a loved one feel inadequate because of that!
Disordered eating is a difficult mental health problem. Tragically, eating disorders are the leading cause of death from mental health issues. When dealing with an insidious disease, it’s best to keep your expectations in check. Don’t get frustrated if your friend/family member/partner isn’t healed a month after seeking help. Recovery is a process.