Cricket star Andrew Flintoff found out about his secret battle with bulimia after he became known as the “fat cricketer” during his international season.
The 42-year-old Top Gear presenter and former England captain shared his ongoing battle with bulimia on Good Morning Britain ahead of an intimate BBC documentary about his life with the eating disorder.
He said that over the course of his career he developed his “Freddie” persona as a “coping mechanism”.
“I’m 6’4” and from Preston. I’m not supposed to have an eating disorder. They just keep it hidden, “he told hosts Piers Morgan and Susana Reid.
He went on to reveal that after years of getting sick after eating, he almost asked for help in his early twenties after a nutritionist came to speak to his team.
“At that point, I was going to say you know what? I have a problem here,” said Flintoff.
“And then she signed off by saying that she works with a lot of women and ballet dancers, and she wouldn’t imagine anyone with an eating disorder being in this room – because we’re obviously a group of boys.”
Freddie announced in 2014 that he had suffered from an eating disorder during his playing career.
Bulimia is an eating disorder that is defined when people lose control and eat a lot in a very short period of time, known as bingeing, and then get sick on purpose or use laxatives, cut down on their diet, or do too much exercise and try to gain weight to stop.
“I became known as a fat cricketer” Flintoff told the BBC. “That was terrible. That’s when I started.
“At that time I got sick after dinner. Then things happened to me as a player.”
In the documentary Freddie Flintoff: Living With Bulimia, which airs at 9 p.m. tonight, he meets people who also have eating disorders and asks if he needs professional help for the first time.
The cricket star explains that the number of men suffering from eating disorders “is much higher than anyone would think”.
“I didn’t feel like I was speaking [about it]I didn’t think I could say anything, “he said.” I know it. I’m still not 100% sure how comfortable I am with this.
However, he said that the documentary on bulimia enabled him to learn “a hell of a lot” about himself from talking to other men who suffer from eating disorders.
“It’s not something I was treated for,” said Freddie. “I’m fit, I’m fine, but one thing I know is that I could be better.”
* Freddie Flintoff: Living With Bulimia will air on BBC One tonight