Hungry for Words: Creative approaches to start the conversation about eating disorders in men

hand drawn pictures and text describing eating disorders in men

Hungry for Words

This project focuses on the problems and perspectives of articulating, communicating and understanding anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders affecting men and boys.

Key project aims

Watch our animation

Explore the often unheard experiences of men with eating disorders going to their GP practice to seek help.

What was it like? How did it feel? Told in their own words it encourages us to listen, reflect, and start the conversation.

Watch now

 
 

Latest news

September 2021

The project 'Hungry for Words', led by Dr Heike Bartel has been shortlisted for the Times Higher Education Award 2021 in the category 'Research Project of the Year: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences'.

The shortlisting statement notes:

Eating disorders in men and boys are rising sharply. ‘Hungry for Words’ has addressed this pressing situation and transformed the understanding of this complex illness via an interdisciplinary AHRC and Wellcome-funded project on patient-centred narratives of EDs in literature and other media. The project generated new resources that have won the endorsement of three key medical bodies and reached over 500,000 medical practitioners. Winners will be announced on 25th Nov. 2021.

Awards website

Times Higher Education Awards 21 logo
 

Older news

August 2021

Author and comedian Dave Chawner talks about his 'Comedy for Coping' project in collaboration with Dr Heike Bartel, University of Nottingham. Listen to the interview on youtube.

July 2021

We are proud to announce Dr Heike Bartel's role as Co-I in the project 'Eating Disorders: Delineating illness and recovery trajectories to inform personalised prevention and early intervention in young people (EDIFY)', led by Professor Ulrike Schmidt at Kings College London and Dr Helen Sharpe at the University of Edinburgh  (£3.8m, four years starting Sept. 2021).  

This project will see researchers work directly with young people with eating disorders to develop an interdisciplinary, evidence-based model of how these conditions develop and how young people recover. Heike Bartel will co-lead the arts-humanities strand of this project researching how interdisciplinary narratives of illness and recovery and creative methods such as theatre, writing and comedy can be used to increase understanding amongst the public and professionals

Find out more about the project

December 2020

Dr Heike Bartel (School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies), was shortlisted for the 2020 ‘Best public engagement initiative’ prize, for her work on eating disorders in men and boys. The annual awards are run by the Institute for Policy and Engagement, and aim to celebrate and recognise the excellent work carried out by researchers and academics in achieving policy impact and engaging the public with current research. Congratulations to Heike on this recognition of her important work. https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/policy-and-engagement/awards/index.aspx

Heike Bartel's monograph is out: Men Writing Eating Disorders. Autobiographical Writing and Illness Experience in English and German Narratives (Bingley: Emerald, 2020).  

https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/978-1-83909-920-520201009/full/html

June 2020

We are proud to announce that our training tool 'Consider Eating Disorders in Men' has received endorsement by the Royal College of Nursing and accreditation by the Royal College of General Practitioners.

We are also proud that our animation is now being used by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych and RCPsych in Scotland) as a training tool. See:

 
 

Project artwork

No Sugar by Selina Burrn

Poem by the sibling of a man with an eating disorder, read by people involved in the Hungry for Words project.

Note: The poem below is personal, raw and honest. Some people may find it triggering although it is not intended so.

"No Sugar" transcript

My brother won’t eat
sugar or fat,
meat or flour.
He runs 18 miles
on a cup of
oatmeal.
His eyes are black
and his fingers
like bone.
I hear his shoes
slapping the pavement
at midnight.
He flies like
a hummingbird
who can't find nectar—
For as long
as he can.

 

‘Healthy stethoscope’ by Caren Garfen

Healthy Stethoscope for Hungry for Words website

"The 'Healthy Stethoscope' is a take on the daily examinations performed on a person suffering from an eating disorder. Miniature versions of healthy food items were placed in the diaphragm to represent the small portion sizes ingested by the sufferer on their road to recovery." - Caren Garfen

 

 

Read more poetry written from the perspectives of people affected by ‘disordered’ eating, including family, friends, health practitioners, and observers on our poetry page:

Poetry page

We welcome your thoughts about the above poem or any of the other poetry featured on this website. Please submit your comments using the feeback form.

Feedback on poetry

It would have been helpful in my recovery process to be able to read these poems as it would have given me the words I struggled to find to articulate myself. I feel they can provide a sufferer with support to seek help, to know that you are not alone with these issues and that it is nothing to be ashamed of.
 
 
Post it notes for creating poems

Poetry

Poetry written from the perspectives of people affected by ‘disordered’ eating

Performing at an event

Events

A mixture of workshops, gigs and outreach events

 
 Our poems in the news
 

 

Dr Gail article (6)

THE world is obsessed by weight at the moment. We have an obesity crisis. We know many cancers are now caused by being fat. We know the obese people with type 2 diabetes can be cured if they lose a significant amount of weight. That your blood pressure may come down if you lose weight. The obesity problem is everywhere. The advice? Lose weight, be thinner, diet, exercise.

But what about those who have a problem with eating? Those who control everything they eat and get thinner and thinner, or those who can't control what they eatbut force themselves to be sick or take laxatives to empty themselves out again? Those with an eating disorder.

As significant as the obesity crisis is the current mental crisis. This is affecting all ages, but especially our young. Self harm and anxiety, depression and suicide are all increasing, but so are eating disorders. Why? Perhaps social media, perhaps peer pressure. We don't know for sure but what we do know is that it is increasing and it is not just girls. Male eating disorders are also on the increase but are often not talked about. Eating disorders in men are real and under diagnosed.

I was privileged to recently be involved in an arts project raising awareness about eating disorders. Real stories routed in poetry from those who have struggled, and those who have watched the struggle from the ringside, helplessly observing their loved ones getting closer to death. The following poem, (written by a relative of a real patient with a severe eating disorder), I read aloud at a national conference this month:.

My brother won’t eat
sugar or fat,
meat or flour.


He runs 18 miles
on a cup of
oatmeal.


His eyes are black
and his fingers
like bone.


I hear his shoes
slapping the pavement
at midnight.


He flies like
a hummingbird
who can't find nectar


For as long
as he can.

If you or a loved one is struggling with any form of eating disorder please come and see your GP. We are here to listen and to help.

 

 

 Our follow-on project is looking to raise greater awareness for male eating disorders at the level of primary care using narratives of lived experience to create an innovative training resource.

 

Project investigators

 

Project partners

 

(Image at top of page extract of hand drawn illustration created at Men Cafe, Being Human 2020. Image ©Pen Mendonca)

Hungry for Words

Creative approaches to start the
conversation about eating disorders in men


telephone:0115 95 15816
email: heike.bartel@nottingham.ac.uk