Authors Note

It is common knowledge that eating disorders, and in particular anorexia, are a girl thing, and we have all read articles containing startling facts such as:

One in 20 women will suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime.

In Britain, anorexia and bulimia have reached catastrophic levels.

Maureen Rice, Observer Sunday July 29, 2001

Of course it is also logical to assume that men and boys are not totally immune, but how many incidences of male eating disorders have you heard of? Certainly up until my son was afflicted I hadn't ever heard of any examples. It turned out neither had my GPP any of the teachers at my son's school, nor any of my friends or work colleagues. So it was a huge shock when my 12-year-old son started to disappear before my eyes. He was a gifted child, in the streamed class at school, and a great sportsman representing the school at football, his main passion, as well as cross-country, athletics, rugby, cricket and swimming, and he was very popular with his peers at school. His anorexia developed startlingly quickly, he lost 25% of his body weight in four months, before collapsing and being rushed into hospital. Six months on and after three and a half months in a residential adolescent unit, I am pleased to say that he was well on the way to recovery. Two years further on and he is a thriving, healthy and happy 15-year-old, who is probably stronger both mentally and physically, having beaten his illness. The relapse rate is high for anorexics, but we are keeping our fingers crossed that this won't happen to us, and we are looking forward to him having a healthy and happy future.

The reason for writing this book, in which I describe our experiences and outline the treatment options available, is that we felt totally alone as parents of an anorexic boy. The eating disorder societies were very helpful and sympathetic but could not put me in contact with other families who had experienced boy anorexia. The professionals assured me that boy anorexia is not unheard of, and especially in the younger age group the balance between boys and girls is more even, but as far as I know there is no literature on this specific subject. I managed to locate a couple of American books on male eating disorders, which have been written in the last couple of years. They were very interesting, and at least acknowledged that there has been an explosion in the incidence of eating disorders in the male population over the last few decades. This provided me with some comfort, but didn't really provide me with any guidance as to the best course of action, being a mother in the UK, watching her son starve himself almost to death in front of her eyes. I would like to think that this book will give hope and practical guidance to any family going through a similar experience.

Anorexia is a terrifying experience for any family to go through, but remember:

• Boys can get anorexia too.

• Anorexia can be beaten.

And most importantly, you are not alone.

Breaking Bulimia

Breaking Bulimia

We have all been there: turning to the refrigerator if feeling lonely or bored or indulging in seconds or thirds if strained. But if you suffer from bulimia, the from time to time urge to overeat is more like an obsession.

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