Pin Me

What are the Signs of Eating Disorders in Men?

written by: micsan07 • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 9/28/2010

While the signs of eating disorders in adult men are similar to women, there are a few differences. Read on to see what they are and some of the symptoms.

  • slide 1 of 5

    What are the Signs of Eating Disorders in Men

    While the signs of eating disorders in adult men are very similar to those in women, there is one marked dissimilarity that should be noted. In women, for the most part, the main focus is on being thin. In men, the focus seems to be on wanting to be more muscular and bulked up.

  • slide 2 of 5

    Healthy Workout or Weight Obsession

    Working out is a natural and healthy activity. However, there are flags that can indicate if the line has been crossed between having a healthy workout and developing a weight or body obsession. People who are perfectionists may find that developing an obsessive-compulsive disorder behavior toward working out can happen easily and is a sign of an eating disorder.

    So how does a man know if he crosses that line? Here are a few signs indicating muscle dismorphia, an eating disorder based on the need for a muscular body image.

    • If you are exercising more than once a day without any days off from strenuous weight lifting
    • If others are telling you that your body is muscular, but you think you are too thin and haven't enough muscle
    • Is working out or exercising interfering with your daily activities? Are you brushing off your friends, schoolwork, or your job because exercise is more important?
    • Is your body being harmed by your need to look a certain way? Tearing joints because of over training, taking muscle building steroids, fainting because of lack of enough fluids are signs that you are crossing the line between healthy and obsessive.
    • If the only way to feel good about yourself is to have muscle, there's a problem. Self-esteem shouldn't solely be based on your body build.
  • slide 3 of 5

    General Signs of an Eating Disorder

    Some general signs of eating disorders in adult men are:

    • A compulsion for thinness or muscle building
    • Fear of being fat or gaining weight
    • Decrease or disappearance of sexual drive
    • Testicles shrink and wet dreams may stop
    • Obesity or rapid weight gain
    • Eating an abnormal portion of food in a short period
    • Inability to stop eating when full
    • Develop a habit of eating alone, eating secretively
    • Late night eating
    • Eating even when not hungry
    • Negative feelings after overeating like shame, disgust, and anger
    • Food hoarding
    • Using food as a crutch to deal with strong feelings like stress and unhappiness
    • Blaming food, weight, or body image as the reason for failures or successes in life
    • Avoiding situations in which food will be a part of, such as parties, family gatherings, and other social events
    • Depression and anxiety are common
    • Thought of food, weight, or body image consume daily thoughts
    • Overeating and then purging through use of laxatives, diuretics, exercise, or vomiting
    • Fatigue or constantly being tired
    • Feelings of guilt no matter what you do
    • Stomach pain that doesn't go away
    • Swollen fingers
    • Huge weight swings

    Individuals may exhibit signs apart from these, however, this list encompasses general signs of an eating disorder.

  • slide 4 of 5

    Symptoms of Eating Disorders in Adult Men

    Some general symptoms of eating disorders in men may be feeling weak or tired on a daily basis.

    Feelings of loneliness, depression, and isolation are common in men with eating disorders. There are often unrealistic and unattainable standards of perfection, a need for control, and an inability to express feelings or desires. Self-esteem is low or non-existent.

    Other psychological symptoms may be insomnia, difficulty in concentrating on anything other than food or weight, and losing interest in other people.

    Some physical symptoms may be the body's metabolism slowing down. Some men experience constipation. Others develop brittle bones that may break easily. Younger men may not grow to their potential full height.

    Some men may experience a puffy face if the glands in the cheeks get swollen. Purging by vomiting may cause the enamel in the teeth to weaken and dissolve. Hair loss or thinning hair may develop. Blood pressures levels may lower and the heart may develop arrhythmia or uneven heartbeats. Blood sugars within the body may become abnormal and joints may swell or start to experience discomfort.

    These are all symptoms and signs of eating disorders in adult men that may occur. Many of these, if left untreated, may develop into serious or critical health conditions that can impair the quality of life in a man with an eating disorder.

  • slide 5 of 5


    National Institute of Mental Health - How Are Men and Boys Affected:

    The Royal College of Psychiatrists - Eating Disorders: