Freddie Flintoff health: Star admits he still struggles with eating disorder

Freddie Flintoff says he will still have an bulimia 'in 20 years'

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It was in the early 2000s when the sportsman shot to fame for his gifted abilities, but troubles really started getting worse for Freddie behind closed doors. Although in front of the cameras Freddie adopted a jack-the-lad, banterous personality, in actuality he felt pressure to keep his weight down – especially when joining the England cricket team. Now 43 years old, the star is still learning and recovering from his ordeal.

Experts estimate at least 1.5 million people in the UK – of which 25 percent are male – have an eating disorder.

Bulimia specifically is an eating disorder and mental health condition where people binge on food then make themselves throw up, take laxatives or exercise excessively.

Within the documentary – Freddie Flintoff: Living with Bulimia – the star confronts the condition he has hidden for so many years.

He said: “This is such a hard thing to define or even admit. For years I’ve managed to keep it hidden – it’s not right, is it? I know it’s not right.

“I’m not going to lie, I enjoyed the results. I don’t know whether it’s just being a bloke, you feel you should be able to stop it.”

The Mayo Clinic explains that individuals with bulimia become preoccupied with their weight and body shape. Individuals may be harshly critical or pick up on self-perceived flaws.

As the disorder is not just about food, but about body weight, it can make it extremely difficult to overcome. This is something that Freddie can relate to, admitting that he thinks about his weight every 20 minutes.

Continuing, Freddie said: “I’ve had periods when I’ve done it this year.

“It’s something that affects me every single day. It’s something I am acutely aware of when I look in the mirror, when I eat my food, when I try on my clothes, it’s something I don’t stop thinking about.

“This is the frustrating thing about it – I know it’s a problem and I know it needs addressing, so why am I not doing something about it?”

According to the NHS, symptoms of bulimia include:

  • Eating very large amounts of food in a short time, often in an out-of-control way – this is called binge eating
  • Making yourself vomit, using laxatives, or doing an extreme amount of exercise after a binge to avoid putting on weight – this is called purging
  • Fear of putting on weight
  • Being very critical about your weight and body shape
  • Mood changes – for example, feeling very tense or anxious.

These can be extremely hard to spot as individuals can be very secretive about their disorder.

Looking back on his professional cricketing career, which had numerous highlights, Freddie described how he was making himself sick after some of his biggest cricketing victories.

“The first Test of that series, I was being sick,” he said.

“Everyone is talking about how well you’re doing, and there’s part of you that thinks, ‘it’s working, let’s just crack on with it’.”

As well as dealing with an eating disorder, Freddie’s mental health deteriorated and he experienced depression – something he now passionately speaks about.

Speaking to GQ Magazine, Freddie said: “I feel as easy talking about the weather as I do mental health.

“It’s something which I experienced. It’s something I experienced well before I retired, I don’t even know when it started, and I don’t really care.

“All I know is that it’s something which affects me, by talking to people it helps and I’m on medication.”

Getting help and support as soon as possible gives you the best chance of recovering from bulimia. Individuals are able to talk confidently to an adviser from the eating disorder charity Beat, on their adult helpline 08088010677, or on their youth helpline 08088010711.

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