Wellness

Penn State Kicker Reminds Us Men Have Eating Disorders, Too

Men with eating disorders are speaking up.

Eating disorders affect every race, gender and body size.

It’s one very important takeaway from Penn State kicker Joey Julius’s viral Facebook post on Monday, in which he went public about his diagnosis of binge eating disorder. Julius, a popular player for the Nittany Lions, said he spent several months in treatment after being admitted May 9.

“Due to my increase in not only weight but also depression and anxiety, my team physicians started to notice not only a change in my overall happiness but also my performance as a normal human being,” he wrote. “...I learned that for the last 11 years of my life I have suffered through a disorder known as binge eating disorder.”

“I learned that for the last 11 years of my life I have suffered through a disorder known as binge eating disorder.”

The football player wrote that he suffered with extreme bouts of anxiety that resulted in “stints with purging.” He missed several months of team activities while at McCallum Place, an eating disorder treatment center with locations in Missouri and Kansas.

Binge eating disorder is characterized by recurrent episodes of compulsive overeating or binge eating. People with BED typically eat a large quantity of food discreetly, in a specific amount of time –- say twenty minutes to two hours -– and generally feel a loss of control during the episode, according to the National Eating Disorder Association.

It’s also the most common eating disorder in the U.S., and about 40 percent of people suffering with BED are male. Julius’ decision to go public is raising awareness for men who suffer with an eating disorder – an illness many assume just affects women.

So far, his post has garnered more than 6,000 likes, with many other men revealing similar experiences with BED in the 600 comments.

“We really need to get to a gender-neutral approach to eating disorders,” psychiatrist Ted Weltzin told The Huffington Post last year. In the United States, 10 million men will suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime. Research shows that men are often undiagnosed for eating disorders and can suffer in silence out of fear they’ll be seen as having a “women’s issue.”

Removing the stigma about eating disorders is a critical step for everyone to get the appropriate, life-saving help, according the National Eating Disorder Association.

The message ought to be that eating disorders have no gender. ... Anybody and everybody can be a sufferer of eating disorders,” Sam Thomas, founder of the U.K.-based group Men Get Eating Disorders Too, previously told HuffPost Live. “I think it’s really important that we actually try to be more inclusive when we talk about eating disorders, so that nobody feels excluded.”

If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.

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