While some men come to BED through dieting, and they need approaches to help them stop dieting and learn to eat mindfully, some men develop BED in response to a painful episode that they have not or will not discuss openly. Often, that episode involves bullying.
Many young people deal with bullying while they are attending school, and as The New York Times points out, being overweight is one of the most commonly cited reasons for bullying. When kids are young, they can be cruel. A child who is overweight can seem like an easy target for a bully.
When boys are bullied due to weight, it can leave deep scars. Some boys simply do not forget the things their tormenters said to them, and they continue to carry the damage around with them, buried deep within their hearts, for years. When they feel low and sad, those hurtful things people said rise to the surface, and the only way to stop the pain is to do something else — like eating.
That trauma can be compounded if the bullying continues into adulthood, and research suggests that this is far from uncommon. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, 27 percent of people have current or past direct experience with bullying that happens at work. That means many people are either targets of bullies while working, or they see others being bullied. Either could awaken old wounds or cause new wounds to form.
Therapy can be quite helpful in resolving this form of trauma. Clinicians can help clients to express everything they once felt too worried or afraid to say to a bully, and therapists can help their clients to understand that the things a bully says are not realistic or truthful. That could keep people from internalizing the bullying and responding with bingeing.