We've often talked about a need to bring the discussion about mindful eating into the realm of men, and we are delighted to share that in 2016 our special issue of Food for Thought will be all about mindful eating for men. With June 15-21 being Men's Health Week we pulled together some resources to share in our Mindful Eating Awareness Calendar. We also asked our board members if someone were willing to write something about men and mindful eating in recognition of this coming week.
Is mindful eating for men?
By Cinzia Pezzolesi
Last time I visited the gym I couldn't help but notice the number of guys that were intensely gazing at the mirror and checking their abs or biceps...so I wondered is the pursuit of a perfect body no longer only a girl thing?
Unlike women who are mostly interested in thinning their bodies, most men focus on bulking up or redefining their muscles. Some of them may be driven by the desire to look manly and powerful or others by the need to prepare their body for competitions of various sorts such as body building shows or martial arts matches. This involves losing a great amount of body weight a few weeks before their matches in order to fit the competition category.
How far are men willing to go in order to achieve such goals?
Choices men make to get that muscular look or perfect competition body can be far from healthy. Efforts may include extreme exercise coupled with restrictive diets, fasting or high intake of proteins powders, hormones or even plastic surgery.
Further, there seems to be to be increasing exposure of ideal-male bodies in the media, and researchers have found a significant relationship between such exposure and negative self-image.
By now I am convinced that most of them spend a great deal of energy and physical-mental resources to manipulate their bodies. I also suspect that this process is not free from negative self-judgments and unrealistic expectations about their body shape.
Mindful Eating for Men
In looking at our statistics, the majority of people coming to our website in search of resources are women under thirty. How can we reach more men? There seems to be a misconception that mindful eating is a ‘feminine’, softer way to approach food struggles and body image. As mindful eating practitioners, how do we let men know that this is a practice that works for men too? Do we understand the different psychological workings when considering body image issues between men and women? (Generally speaking, of course, and then there's the rising population of gender fluidity!)
This month, in honor of Men's Health Week, we'd like to encourage our TCME community to take reflect on the men in our lives, in our practices, in our society, and consider how mindful eating can be a benefit in men’s health.
Visit our Mindful Eating Calendar for links to resources and articles on mindful eating from a male perspective. Stay tuned for next year's special issue of Food for Thought on mindful eating for men, which will be published in May 2016.