Freddie Flintoff has an unflappable coolness that is characteristic of a professional sportsman. As a panelist on Sky One’s sports-based comedy panel show A League of Their Own, this coolness made for wry comedy. As one of the current presenters on the BBC Two show Top Gear, he once again employs his nonchalance to comical effect.
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While Freddie often comes across as unfazed on TV shows, the pressures he faced during his time as an international cricketer took its toll on his mental health.
The former cricketer revealed how the high expectations that come with playing sport at a professional led to a battle with bulimia.
Speaking on the Loose Women back in 2017 as part of the show’s Body Stories campaign at the time, the star revealed he used to make himself sick after eating to keep his weight at a peak performance level.
The TV presenter divulged: “It got to the point where I had to lose some weight. I wasn’t hitting the targets that were set for me, and I thought, ‘I want a quick fix.”
“So I’d go out, I’d drink, I’d eat a kebab like the rest of the lads on the way home and then when I got back I’d make myself sick.”
The former England cricket captain revealed the extent to which the habit was taking over his life.
The situation became so unmanageable, he eventfully felt compelled to open up to his wife.
Freddie said: “We were in Dubai and I’d booked us into this nice restaurant. We ordered food. I got a scallop cut up three ways for the starter and then a main. After eating it I went into the toilet and threw up.
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“I remember thinking to myself, I’ve just paid like £300 for these meals and I just threw it up in a toilet.”
As Freddie explained, opening up to his wife was a major turning point, giving him the resolve he needed to curb the harmful habit.
The Top Gear presenter is now poised to revisit that painful chapter in his life in an hour-long TV documentary, Freddie Flintoff On Bulimia on BBC One.
As well as retelling Freddie’s story, the documentary will see the sportsman meet experts and male sufferers to better understand what it means to be a man with an eating disorder.
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Freddie hopes the show will resonate with people who may be wrestling with Bulimia, helping them to confront the condition.
What is Bulimia?
Bulimia is an eating disorder and mental health condition.
The NHS explains:“People who have bulimia go through periods where they eat a lot of food in a very short amount of time (binge eating) and then make themselves sick, use laxatives (medication to help them poo) or do excessive exercise, or a combination of these, to try to stop themselves gaining weight.”
According to the health body, men and women of any age can get bulimia, but it’s most common in young women and typically starts in the mid to late teens.
What the warning signs?
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
- The eating disorder can also produce physical symptoms, such as feeling tired and a sore throat from being sick.
- “These symptoms may not be easy to spot in someone else because bulimia can make people behave very secretively,” explains the NHS.
How to treat bulimia
Treatment usually consists of a combination of therapy and mediation, which will be determined by the nature and severity of the condition.
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