Great British Bake Off’s John Whaite has opened up on his past battle with bulimia and his ‘very complicated’ relationship with food.
The celebrity baker, who won the third series of the beloved show in 2012, was a guest on Steph’s Packed Lunch on Channel 4 today where he said he hadn’t previously spoken publicly about living with the condition.
‘My body image as I grew up was very difficult…,’ John recalled. ‘I was so conscious of being fat.
‘But one thing I was aware of as being problematic for 12, 14 years was overeating and then purging.
‘The painful forcing down of food and then that instant need to get that out of me.’
Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterised by binge eating followed by purging, which can include vomiting, taking laxatives, fasting or exercising excessively.
John added it has been ‘very difficult to overcome and I think that is down to the stigma of an eating disorder’.
‘Especially as a chef, I didn’t really want to talk about it because I felt like it kind of undermined my entire career,’ he continued.
‘How can a chef who writes recipes and books and cooks on TV, how can he realistically have bulimia?’
‘If I was making a batch of muffins and something went wrong in my life that day, or around that time, I would sit there and I would eat all 12 of the muffins and then I’d run to the bathroom and I’d make myself sick.’
John said he felt like ‘a weight has been lifted’ after talking about the disorder.
‘It feels good to talk about it,’ he shared. ‘I’ve been an advocate for mental health since being on Bake Off and when I’ve talked to my psychotherapist about this, I didn’t really realise I had an eating disorder until about two years ago when she said, “This is bulimia”.
‘Until that point, I just thought it was a slight way of coping with overeating, I didn’t think it was a huge problem.’
Steph’s Packed Lunch airs weekdays at 12.30pm on Channel 4 and Great British Bake Off is available to stream on All 4.
If you suspect you, a family member or friend has an eating disorder, contact Beat on 0808 801 0677 or at firstname.lastname@example.org, for information and advice on the best way to get appropriate treatment