Cyclist tells of battle to beat bulimia - News

Another example of how we speak differently about male eating disorders and female eating disorders. With women we often talk about wanting to control something, about horrible life events, pressure from outside.

With men the language often is about trying to make weight for a sport or activity: which is more mechanical and more internal.

It is the same illness. An increased focus on males with EDs, and the absence of the usual psychobabble, will be good for the whole conversation about eating disorders.


  1. Ummmm ...yeah ... except eating disorders ARE about much more than just food and weight.

    It's really a shame that the discussion is so limited when it comes to male eating disorders. I can understand why a male who reveals that he has an ED, wouldn't want to discuss emotions ... especially given the pressures that society already puts on males to be macho and whatnot.

  2. To me that was a very good article about eating disorders in sports - the fact that he is male is almost incidental.
    On the other hand now that both eating disorders in sports and eating disorders in males are being talked about more often (and I think we in the UK owe a LOT to John Prescott for the later development) have you noticed how the statistics are changing. This article states "Up to 12% of people suffering eating disorders in the UK are male". The last one I read stated that "less than 10% of sufferers are male".

  3. I think his admission is a great thing for two reasons: as with Prescott, it might bring male bulimia more into view; also, it will raise awareness of non-purging bulimia.

    I wonder how many people suffer from non-purging bulimia but don't think it's an eating disorder because they don't make themselves throw up.

  4. Actually, Solitude, I'm going to disagree with you. Eating disorders ARE about the food when you're not eating right. Eating and gaining weight aren't a cure-all, but you can't get well if you're not eating right.

    I have found my eating disorder is more about a funky brain chemistry, nasty anxiety, and mood disorders, with a little perfectionism thrown in for seasoning. I was only trying to control my fear of food, my fear of eating too much, of not exercising enough. But it wasn't "about" control.

  5. Carrie,

    It is "about" control for me. It's true that you can't get well if you're not eating right, but I've been through treatment, gained the weight, and then fallen back into my ED. I know quite a few others who have sadly also relapsed shortly after treatment.

    Eating right won't make much of a difference if you cannot resolve the underlying issues that caused the disorder in the first place. And for me, there are *a lot* of underlying issues.

  6. Solitude,

    I'm not sure I see the nutritional restoration part as just getting up to a safe weight. That's just the first part. Getting to an OPTIMAL body composition, and staying there for 6-12 months, is what I would refer to as the nutritional goal. That is not something a residential treatment can generally offer - and why people usually relapse after treatment if the environment at home is not as strict as the facility on keeping nutrition at 100%.

    This is not to say that having nutritionally healed will give someone a great life - many of us have issues to deal with in our lives - but without that long-term nutritional recovery it would be hard to know what ED symptoms are cause or effect.

  7. When I was a competitive distance runner thirty years ago, I and my team mates routinely fasted, binged when we couldn't tolerate hunger any longer, and went on 20 mile runs to lose weight. Not long ago, my daughter developed anorexia nervosa, and it opened my eyes to the realization that there's a huge difference between the drastic behaviors we engaged in and the true illness of anorexia nervosa. While we were aware we were losing weight, she suffered from a perception she was "fat" when she was actually emaciated. We chose to lose weight, but she was so overpowered by the illness she was unable to have free will. We loved to eat and denied ourselves food because we were willing to trade off that pleasure for what we believed would be more competitive success. My daughter, on the other hand, feared food and had horrible anxiety while eating. The other runners and I looked forward to the end of the competitive season so we could eat normally, and we did. My daughter, however, entered a spiral of disordered thoughts and behaviors that she couldn't pull herself out of without help.
    All this is just to say there's a world of difference between extreme eating behaviors by athletes and a true, clinical case of eating disorders. We should be careful not to diminish the seriousness of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa by comparing them with unconventional eating practices that, while extreme and unhealthy, aren't necessarily the same thing.

  8. Hmmm - I understand what you are saying anonymous, but to my mind what this man is describing IS an eating disorder and deserves to be treated as such. My daughter had "anorexia" in that her weight fell very gradually to a very dangerous level. She never feared foods or thought she was fat, just consistently under ate for a long time. Thanks to a refeeding program she is now at a healthy weight. She still does not control her eating that well (we are not a successful maudsley family) and is now suicidal at times - which condition is a "proper" eating disorder deserving of treatment and care? To my mind they both are.

  9. I guess if you want to get technical about it, my eating disorder is "about" things like anxiety and perfectionism, but only in the sense that those were what loaded the gun, so to speak. Was I afraid of growing up? Yeah, but not pathologically so. I don't like relying on other people, but that is a characteristic that pre-dated the anorexia. I do have desires not to need anything, but that *accompanies* the eating disorder, it doesn't cause it.

    I've been weight restored for over a year now, and I still have issues. Nutritional rehabilitation is only the first step. But I spent years trying to figure out what the anorexia was "about" and it was a futile process. Similar to the cowboy proverb (never thought cowboys had proverbs, but that's beside the point) that says "If you want to climb a mountain, stop digging a hole." I needed to get up a mountain. I needed to eat.


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