A Marine veteran breaks
the silence behind male anorexia.
WHILE SERVING IN THE MARINE CORPS,
E- 4 Officer Colt Gordon was nicknamed
“Superman” by his fellow servicemen
due to his dedication to working out. But
behind the muscles was a secret: Gordon
suffered from a severe eating disorder.
“At one point I was only eating apples and
pears and obsessively working out,” says
Gordon, a patient at UC San Diego Health.
While most people associate eating
disorders with women, millions of men
and boys in the United States battle
all forms of the illness. The National
Association for Males with Eating Disorders reports that 25 to 40 percent of
people with eating disorders are male.
“While male patients often have similar
personality characteristics as their female
peers, they experience significantly more
barriers to treatment,” says Erin Parks,
Ph.D., director of outreach and admissions
with the UC San Diego Eating Disorders
Center for Treatment and Research.
For instance, Gordon’s eating disorder was complicated by the fact that he
never experienced significant weight
loss. “I was complimented on how I
looked physically, and it motivated me
to continue down this path,” he says.
It’s a common misconception that eating
disorders are diagnosed by appearance.
“Many people struggling with eating disorders are of average weight,” says Parks.
After battling his disorder for six years,
Gordon entered the UC San Diego Eating Disorders Center for Treatment and
Research, one of the only nonprofit,
university-based treatment centers in
the nation that focuses on using scientific findings to improve understanding
and treatment of eating disorders.
“Neuroimaging research has shown that
eating disorders are based in the brain,” says
Parks. “Brains are ‘wired’ to have certain
personality traits that increase someone’s
susceptibility to eating disorders.”
Gordon began working with a psychiatrist, dietician and therapist, and attended
group sessions as well. Now two years after
starting treatment, Gordon is training to
be a therapist and has become a mental
health advocate in the community.
“I will never be cured of my eating
disorder, but the treatment I received
saved me,” says Gordon. “I may not be
Superman, but I’m now very passionate
about sharing my story to help others
going through a similar journey.”
For help or to learn more,
call 858-534-8019 or visit
1. Eliminating certain food
groups from general diet
2. Over-exercising and
hobbies or school/work
3. Frequently checking weight
4. Highly critical of appearance
5. Obsessively reading nutrition
information, measuring food
or counting calories
r ADDRESSING DISPARITY
BY MICHELLE BRUBAKER