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7 red flags of poor body image in men

Are you a dietitian or nutritionist feeling unsure of how to identify poor body image in men? You’re not alone. 

Poor body image in men is a challenging thing to spot. It’s something that’s not often talked about due to the stigma around eating disorders ‘only occurring in women’. But! It’s important to be aware of them so that you can support your clients and help them develop a healthier relationship with their bodies.

There are some things we can’t change or control, such as; sexual orientation, age, and the ‘ideal male body’ that’s portrayed in the media. But when it comes to behaviours, actions, or beliefs that can pop up in your consultation we may have some more influence.

An infographic detailing risk factors versus red flags poor body image in men.
Risk factors vs red flags for poor body image in men

The Red Flags of Poor Body Image

To help you identify poor body image in men here are 7 red flags to keep an eye out for:

1. Pre-occupation with leanness and/or muscularity

Are your clients are constantly talking about wanting to “lean down” or build muscle? They may be fixated on the idea that they need to change their bodies. This may indicate that their body image is impacting their self-esteem.

2. Exercising despite injury or illness

Skipping rest days, “pushing through” workouts, or adding extra exercise to their training schedule – despite being injured or sick – is a sign of poor body image.

3. Anxiety or panic when unable to exercise

Do your clients struggle to cope with missing a workout or not being able to exercise as planned? It may be a sign of poor body image.

4. Exercising in secret

If your clients are fidgeting or doing extra workouts in their room or without their coach  knowing, it could be a sign of poor body image. Watch out for that ‘burn to earn’ mentality where they feel the need to earn their food through exercise.

5. Excessive attention to diet

If your clients are constantly counting calories, tracking macros, only “eating clean” or cutting out food groups it could be a sign of disordered eating. They may also attach guilt and judgment to food or eat in secret.

6. Missing important activities that interfere with a workout schedule or a diet

If your clients are skipping important events or activities because it doesn’t fit with their workout schedule or ‘diet plan’ it could be a sign of poor body image. This could even include skipping birthday celebrations, or eating separately from the family or household, putting their relationships at risk.

7. Avoiding or fear of situations where their body may be exposed to others

If your clients are avoiding beach hangs and pool parties or are wearing loose baggy clothing to hide their bodies this could be a sign of poor body image.

If you notice any of these red flags in your male clients it may be time to have a deeper conversation about their relationship with food, exercise, and body. These conversations may be challenging but they can also be filled with light bulb ‘ahhh’ moments that lead to so much progress and growth in their life.

If you’re not sure how to approach these conversations consider taking our latest Compeat Academy course where we cover how to create safe environments and delve into the nitty gritty of body dysmorphia, disordered eating and eating disorders in men.