The male population is often overlooked on many issues related to nutrition. Dietary restraint is expected more from women compared to men in most cultures. Therefore, culture plays an important role in the interaction between gender and nutrition. Integrating psychology-of-men perspectives into nutrition education has proven to be very effective in challenging long-held beliefs many men have about the importance of nutrition and self-care.
Men & Food Choices
In this country, men’s food choices are deeply rooted in the ideology of what it means to be female and male within the contemporary American society. Most eating disorder programs have tailored their approach to meet the needs of the female population, and men are less likely to seek treatment; although this trend has recently begun to change.
In general, unfavorable male attitudes towards seeking help have been thoroughly documented in literature. Meanwhile, there is data to suggest that substance abuse problems affect more men than women. Discussion of the role of gender identification in American culture, and the impact of advertising and targeted marketing through the media is of paramount importance for men.
Men in Recovery & Exercise Compulsion
Males have higher metabolic rates than females, and male dieters often think of themselves as dieting for legitimate reasons such as improved health. Occasionally, males in recovery from substance abuse display characteristics of “bigorexia”, which is best described as anorexia in reverse, or a pathological preoccupation with muscularity and fear that their muscles are small. When exercise compulsion, body dissatisfaction, muscle dysmorphia, and substance abuse are combined, anabolic androgenic steroid use and abuse can result. Usage of other muscle-enhancing substances is also common for men in recovery who develop exercise dependence. Evidence to date suggests that the pursuit of muscularity is strongly associated with substance abuse and represents a serious clinical concern. Males have special needs with respect to nutrition that should be addressed by a qualified professional.
Nutrition Resources Targeted for Males:
- Mr. Wiss has written a chapter on the special issues concerning the treatment of males with an eating disorder, substance use disorder, and/or addictions. The complete book is available on Amazon HERE
- Find out about what can happen when exercise goes too far: Muscle Dysmorphia
- Read more about Muscle Dysmorphic Disorder HERE
- Why are there so few male dietitians?
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