Man who overcame anorexia says there’s no shame in seeking help

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- When you think of eating disorders, you probably think of girls or women. But by some recent estimates, one in four affected is male. It took many years for an Overland Park man to realize he had anorexia. He wants other men to know there is no shame in getting help.

Jim Moes is free now -- free to enjoy life with his wife and two young children. For 25 years, Moes didn't realize he was enslaved by anorexia.

"I did not believe I had an eating disorder. I just believed and convinced myself that my behavior was appropriate for society," said Moes.

It goes back to eighth grade when there wasn't enough food to go around in Moe's family of 10. He got used to being hungry, and he needed the compliments from others about being thin.

"Teachers told me I looked good," he said. "Friends told me I looked good. You look for feedback. You look for self-esteem boosts and you look for positive encouragement."

His food intake would vary, but he says it was often no more than 500 or 600 calories a day.

"I could always use the excuse -- I'm just eating healthy," said Moes.

But he wasn't. His focus was on numbers -- calories and weight.

"You forget about relationships. You forget about what's important in life and being happy," he said. "My wife just sat me down and she said this is enough."

Moes sought help. His counselor at Renew in Olathe knows many men wait decades or never seek help for anorexia or other eating disorders.

"There's the whole shame that I have a "girl's disease," so there could be a lot of embarrassment and secrecy," said Kori Hintz-Bohn of Renew. "It's hard for them to get through the shame. But you could have an entirely different life free from being enslaved to food by getting help."

Moes says the therapy was not just nutritional.

"It's self-esteem, it's self-worth, it's self-based," he said.

Now 39, Jim is recovering from Anorexia. He's certain the next 25 years of his life can be so much more enjoyable.

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