Freddie Flintoff knows his bulimia is a problem: 'I probably should get help'

Top Gear’s Freddie Flintoff knows he ‘probably should get help’ for his struggle with bulimia.

The 42-year-old first opened up publicly about his eating disorder eight years ago while filming a documentary about training to be a boxer.

The former cricketer, real name Andrew, began to suffer from bulimia when he joined the England team in 2001 as he felt pressure to keep his weight down.  

And eight years on, Flintoff is still struggling with bulimia, saying: ‘I’ve had periods when I’ve done it this year.’

The Top Gear host discusses his experience with bulimia on the one-hour BBC documentary Freddie Flintoff: Living With Bulimia, in which he looks at his own eating disorder and the role bulimia has played in his life. 

Bulimia, also known as bulimia nervosa, is described by charity Beat as eating large quantities of food (called bingeing), and then trying to compensate for that overeating by vomiting, taking laxatives or diuretics, fasting, or exercising excessively (called purging). 

Speaking on the documentary, due to air next week, Flintoff says, as reported by the Daily Mail: ‘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 star says that he has a ‘coping mechanism’ to avoid the urge to make himself sick after eating, but while he feels ‘in control’ of the situation, he says: ‘I probably should get help. I know it’s a problem and I know it needs addressing.’

Flintoff says that he has ‘lied a few times’ to his wife Rachael about his eating disorder, and thinks that he hasn’t got help because ‘everything else is going so well now’.

He says: ‘I have this new career as a television presenter, which I love; I have an amazing family who support me through everything.’

In the documentary, the A League Of Their Own star also meets specialists and young men with eating disorders across the UK, as well as Pamela Nugent, whose son Laurence died in 2009 after suffering a heart attack brought on by bulimia and anorexia. 

Flintoff says: ‘A 24-year-old had a heart attack through bulimia. It’s that thing where you think it’s never going to happen to you.

‘I don’t want to be a statistic, I don’t want to be something that’s read about in years to come, that something’s happened to me.’

Experts estimate that at least 1.5 million people in the UK have an eating disorder like bulimia, of which 25% are male; however, eating disorders are often wrongly seen as illnesses only teenage girls suffer from.

The documentary states that while 1 in 4 people with bulimia in the UK are male, 60% of them do not seek help.

Freddie Flintoff: Living With Bulimia airs on BBC One at 9pm on Monday September 28. 

BEAT

If you suspect you, a family member or friend has an eating disorder, contact Beat on 0808 801 0677 or at [email protected], for information and advice on the best way to get appropriate treatment

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