Sunday, 28 September 2014

Men Get Eating Disorders Too

Eating disorders are often presented as a female-only issue. When we discuss them there is an assumption that the sufferer is a woman. Imagine someone said to you, ‘My friend has anorexia.’ The resultant visual image will probably be a female one. While it is true that, statistically, women are still more likely to suffer from an eating disorder, this could of course be because male sufferers are still less inclined to come forward and acknowledge the issue.

Eating disorders are also synonymous with depression – a condition which, again, has a tendency to be perceived as something only women suffer from. Logic is traditionally seen as the remit of men, whereas women are emotional creatures. While this view is a little antiquated, the idea is certainly all-pervading enough to influence our perception of eating disorders. Eating disorders are emotional and they certainly aren’t logical, and therefore they are seen as a ‘female’ condition.

A huge step forward in raising public awareness of eating disorders in men in Britain occurred in April 2008, when the UK was shocked by the news that ex-Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott had suffered from bulimia nervosa. The story served to debunk many myths – it proved that eating disorders are not the remit of the young, nor those in aesthetically driven careers. It also demonstrated the extent to which the illness can be kept secret – a man who was in the public eye pretty much every day of his several years in office had been suffering behind closed doors, while the nation remained totally oblivious. (In retrospect, Lord Prescott agrees that his chosen profession and being under such close public scrutiny in fact fuelled his eating disorder.)

Now fully recovered, Lord Prescott believes that more can and should be done to raise awareness of male eating disorders. His experiences show without doubt that men having the courage to come forward and acknowledge their condition can have a positive impact in encouraging other men to seek the help they need.

‘Men Get Eating Disorders Too’ is a charitable organisation founded by Sam Thomas, that seeks to raise awareness of eating disorders in men so men are able to recognise their symptoms and access support when they need it. .

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2012

Last week was Eating Disorders Awareness Week in the UK, and today, Sunday 26th February 2012, the event leaps across the pond to the USA.

The aim of the week is to encourage discussion surrounding, and more understanding of eating disorders. The overwhelming response to the week on network television, social networking sites and in the press in Britain was confirmation that, in the Western World, we’re in the grips of an epidemic – With more and more people coming forward and breaking the conspiracy of silence which so often surrounds food and body image related problems.

Yet, despite all this great work in highlighting the experience of anorexics and, occasionally, bulimics, there are still huge gaps in our understanding of what an eating disorder is, and the wide ranging nature of their effect.

That’s what prompted me to write my book ‘Hope with Eating Disorders’. I wanted to acknowledge the huge spectrum of eating disorders out there – From compulsive exercise, binge eating and diet pill addiction to secret night eating. There are those who dip in and out of dangerous eating and exercise behaviours, appearing to the outside world to be ‘normal’ but inside consumed by guilt, shame and obsession.

The Body Gossip campaign, who will receive a donation from every one of my books sold, attempted to highlight this during ED Awareness Week UK (although interestingly their angle was not picked up by the British press) – They filled a billboard with pictures of people representing a variety of shapes, sizes, colours, genders, sexualities and backgrounds and challenged the public to spot those who had suffered, or were currently suffering from an eating disorder. On average, passers by selected three of the photographs. They were then shocked to discover that every one of the pictures on the board was of a past or present sufferer. We’re so used to seeing pictures of skeletal teenage girls in features about eating disorders, most of us simply don’t have the capacity to recognise the illnesses when the victim is male, older or heavier.

There are literally hundreds of ways to have an eating disorder, and most of them do not involve weighing 70 lbs.

Yet even more crucial, in my opinion, is the need to acknowledge all the people who’s lives are affected  by eating disorders. Every sufferer we see represents a group of parents, siblings, extended family, friends, teachers and colleagues who are enduring the detrimental ramifications of the illness.

Parents of eating disorder patients, in particular, feel desperate, lonely, misunderstood and confused. I know this because I was one. My beautiful daughter has now recovered from the anorexia which blighted her early teens and impacted the lives of her twin sister, myself, her father and everyone who knew her. As carers everywhere struggle to make sense of the illogical mentality which categorizes eating disorders, I know better than anyone that what they are searching for is clear, unbiased information, understanding and, above all, hope.

Eating disorders do not have to be a life sentence. They do not have to tear families apart, destroy friendships and careers. They can be conquered.

Eating disorders are vanquished with the knowledge that, just as every sufferer is unique, so will be their path to recovery. Recovery is also a joint effort – Friends and family are intrinsic to the process and my book aims to give them all the information, inspiration and hope they need.

So, this Eating Disorders Awareness Week, please take a moment to think of all the people struggling to cope with the illness of a loved-one – They are often silent heroes, struggling to battle a condition which threatens not only the life of the sufferer, but the stability of their family unit, or friendship group. They will endure temper tantrums, accusations, refusal to engage in conversation or discussions dominated by nothing but food, seemingly endless meal times, arguments, friends who cannot understand and will distance themselves and treatments that do not work.

If you know a friend, parent, sibling or colleague of someone with an eating disorder, why not give them a call this week to see how they are doing? Your support and understanding will help to give them the strength and hope they need.

For more information about my book go to :

For more information about Body Gossip go to

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Update! 'HOPE with Eating Disorders'

Thank you to Andy and his brilliant team at DDM Marketing for all their hard work updating the book pages on my website, Would love to hear your comments. xx

Also now you can pre-order my book through my website! Click the image below.