Our member Ruth Micallef has praised Olympic champion Tom Daley for opening up about his struggles with body image and eating.
Ruth says therapy can support people with their eating disorders and hopes Daley’s comments can help break down barriers and stigma.
Ruth said: “The constant and consistent coverage of anorexia nervosa while relevant, can make people struggling with other types of eating disorders feel a sense of 'not enoughness'. Not thin enough, not traumatised enough, not sick enough.
“At least 92% of all eating disorder cases in the UK are not anorexia nervosa, and you could well be one of them.
“Tom Daley's brave comments broke my heart as I heard him minimising his own eating disorder struggles.
“If you’re struggling with any type of disordered eating symptom, whether you can give it a label or not, there are professionals who can help.
“Many BACP-registered therapists have a specific focus on eating disorders, and can help you work through the trauma and adversity that led to it developing – in a safe environment and at your own pace.
“Your story matters, so if you’re ready to recover, get in touch with a BACP therapist today.”
Daley, who won gold at this summer's Tokyo Games and bronze at London 2012, has spoken about his disordered eating and the pressures that were placed on him as an Olympic diver in recent interviews with the Guardian and on BBC radio.
“I struggled a lot with eating and with food and body image,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live.
“At the end of 2011, leading into 2012 (Olympics), I was told I was fat and needed to lose weight.
“I was 17 and I didn’t really know how to lose the weight. I hadn’t really thought about food. I was a growing boy also training so much, I never really had to think about putting on weight.
“All of a sudden I was put into a position where I had to start losing weight. I didn’t quite know how to go about doing that.
“I was doing tonnes of cardio and cutting out carbs, I felt absolutely awful all of the time. Then I would start to feel guilty when I would eat something.
“I had spells of bulimia and felt like I was constantly going in the wrong direction.
“With diving you’re very exposed. You’re not wearing very much. You’re right up there. Everyone can see your progress. Everyone can see exactly what you look like.
“It’s also been a challenge for me because I never felt I could talk about it because of the fact that when people see me they say ‘what are you talking about? I would like to have your body’.
“It’s really hard to explain but you can’t help the way you feel about yourself, the things you notice about yourself, the things you eat and the way it makes you feel, and feeling like you’re constantly being judged.
“I’d never thought about it before someone brought it to my attention, and then I thought ‘is everybody looking at me and judging me for how fat, or not, I am?’.
“It played with my eating habits and all of that until I was crunching on ice to try to make myself feel like I was eating.
“After the Olympics and going into these Olympics I’ve had a great team of nutritionists around me. I feel really comfortable with where I’m at.
“It was very challenging when you’re 17, 18, and there was not just the pressure of what I looked like but also the pressure of people asking if I had a girlfriend and sexuality and those kinds of things.
“It was really difficult to deal with all of those things very much in the public eye. Most people get to do all of that behind closed doors and be able to experience and explore who they are without having the pressure of everyone asking questions and trying to find out who you are,” he added.
To find a counsellor who can help you with an eating disorder, visit our therapist directory.
Picture credit: flikr/Flickr published under Creative Commons Licence
What are eating disorders? How do you know if you, or a loved one, have an eating disorder. BACP member Susie Pinchin explains how counselling can help if you have problems with food or abnormal eating habits.
How to find a therapist
How to use the BACP Register and our online therapist directory to find the right counsellor or psychotherapist for you.
Counselling in the news
Famous faces and national media show how counselling changes lives