'You keep it hidden away': Andrew Flintoff opens up about bulimia

Andrew Flintoff has spoken about his experiences with bulimia. Credit: Good Morning Britain

Former England cricketer Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff has opened up about his battle with bulimia.

Flintoff, who played 79 Tests for his country, has made a documentary for BBC about the eating disorder and his own experiences with it.

“I remember when I was young when I started playing professional cricket, and I was a shy and quite retiring young lad, and I don’t think that would have cut it in the world of professional sport," the former Lancashire allrounder told ITV's Good Morning Britain.

"So, this Freddie character seemed to develop, where he seemed bullet proof, nothing is going to bother him, every time you walk out onto a field or into a situation, you have got it under control.

"I developed that over a period of time, I suppose, just as a coping mechanism. Don’t get me wrong, it was a lot of fun as well.

"As I get older, I think I’m coming back into myself a little bit, more comfortable in my own skin. Probably more like Andrew than Fred.”

Flintoff playing for England in 2009 Credit: PA

Bulimia is more heavily associated with women and especially teenagers as the average age for people to begin suffering is between 18 and 19.

Men account for 25% of all eating disorders in the UK but many fear opening up about it, with Flintoff himself discouraged from seeking help during his career.

“The stats of men suffering from eating disorders is high… I nearly asked for help in my early 20s. "We had a dietitian come in to speak to the team. I was at that point where I was about to say I have a problem here.

"She signed off by saying that she worked with a lot of women… and she wouldn’t imagine there was anyone with an eating disorder in the room, because we were a group of lads, obviously.

"I didn’t feel like I could speak or say anything. Being a bloke, 6ft 4 and from Preston,I’m not meant to have an eating disorder by rights.

"So, you keep it hidden away and you don’t want to speak about it."

If you think you may be suffering from an eating disorder, the following links can provide support and useful advice: