A million American men suffer from anorexia - AmericaNowNews.com


A million American men suffer from anorexia

Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa are usually associated with young girls and women. But according to the National Eating Disorders Association, 1,000,000 boys and men are afflicted with what's now being called "manorexia."

The message is clear in these commercials found online: "Boys, if you want to be hot, this is what you have to look like." But the Internet also reveals what pursuing the perfect body can look like when it becomes a obsession.

Gary Grahl struggled with anorexia from age 15 to 22, which he writes about in his book Skinny Boy. He spoke to America Now from Wisconsin to discuss this pressing issue.

"I couldn't eat a large apple. It had to be a small apple. It couldn't be a medium size apple either. It had to be a small apple," Grahl says. 

Grahl also says "I had this distortion between how I felt and how I looked. That is a distortion that a lot of people with eating disorders have. They feel fat but they really aren't."

Gary says he dreamed of being a major league baseball player and pushed himself to achieve the all-star image.

"I began comparing myself, my body and my workouts with these professional athletes. And it just snowballed after that. It got to the point where I wouldn't allow myself to sit down during the day because, in my mind, standing or walking obviously burned more calories than sitting," Grahl explains. 

Gary's weight dropped to a startling 110 pounds.

Grahl says, "I just felt this accomplishment that I could actually do this to my body. And I felt proud of that."

Dr. Lyndsay Elliott is a clinical psychologist who treats teenage anorexics.

"A lot of these boys carry a lot of shame because it's traditionally a female problem, and they don't want to be seen as effeminate in any way. So a lot of these boys are suffering in silence," says Dr. Elliott. 

And that's why she says it's important for parents to recognize the warning signs.

Dr. Elliott explains, "If you see your kid is rigid at all in terms of what they're eating, or they're not allowing themselves to eat, that's when you want to start to pay attention."

Other indicators are perfectionism, a fixation on body weight, and extreme calorie counting.

"What parents should know is there are resources for these kids who are suffering with eating disorders. And that even though boys maybe very ashamed of their behaviors there are ways for them to get comprehensive treatment so that they're not having a life-long negative relationship with food or their bodies," says Dr. Elliott. 

Dr. Elliott says early intervention is critical, because for anorexics who do survive, recovery can take up to seven years. If you do know somebody who has anorexia, The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders is an excellent resource for help.

Copyright 2013 America Now. All rights reserved. 

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