Exploring the Experiences of Gay Men with Regards to Eating, Exercise, and Mindfulness-Based Concepts

Regan, Harvey and Jama, Adrian and Mantzios, Michail and Keyte, Rebecca and Egan, Helen (2021) Exploring the Experiences of Gay Men with Regards to Eating, Exercise, and Mindfulness-Based Concepts. American Journal of Men's Health, 15 (3). p. 155798832110163. ISSN 1557-9883

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Existing research investigating gay men’s eating behavior has focused on stereotypes and body image, rather than to understand why disordered eating is prevalent in gay men. The current study adopted a qualitative approach and employed interview methodology to explore gay men’s attitudes, feelings and experiences of their eating behavior, and the potential link to mindfulness and self-compassion. Twenty gay men aged from 21 to 51 years were interviewed using an interview schedule with open-ended questions. Three main themes emerged from the transcript data sets: “Lean to be Seen,” “Sod it ‘I’ll Have a Pizza,” and “You Can’t Sit with Us.” The first theme was developed following responses that participant’s eating behavior and exercise engagement were influenced by their perceived attractiveness by the gay community. All participants spoke of achieving or maintaining a slim or muscular body type and adopted their eating behavior or exercise regime to reach corresponding goals. The second theme relates to the lack of acceptance felt from the gay community upon not conforming to the bodily expectations set out by the community. The third theme relates to the conflicts in participants’ attitudes around how exercising and eating healthily would improve their mental well-being; but that they also would give preference to calorie dense foods to reduce stress. These reflections are observed through a context of self-kindness and self-compassion and are seen to be related to increased feelings of self-criticism and body dissatisfaction. The limitations and implication for this research and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1177/15579883211016341
20 April 2021Accepted
27 May 2021Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: self-compassion, dieting, gay men, pressure to conform, weight gain
Subjects: CAH04 - psychology > CAH04-01 - psychology > CAH04-01-01 - psychology (non-specific)
Divisions: Faculty of Business, Law and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences > Dept. Psychology
Depositing User: Rebecca Keyte
Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2021 12:59
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2022 14:11
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/11808

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