Tom Daley Says He Struggled With an Eating Disorder Due to Pressures From Diving
Olympic diver Tom Daley has revealed in a new interview that he's struggled with an eating disorder.
Daley, 27, who started his Olympic career when he was just 14, disclosed his past with disordered eating in a Q&A with fans for The Guardian. "I used to make myself throw up, in 2012," he said. "I weigh myself every day. I've had a very strange relationship with food and my body image." (In 2012, Tom won a bronze medal in the men's 10-meter platform at the London Olympics.)
He added that he had a "mild form" of an eating disorder, saying, "Men always seem to not have eating disorders, and it's hard to talk about it. But I would consider myself to be someone that has very much struggled with body image, and eating, and feeling guilty and shameful of the things that I eat."
Daley connected his disordered eating with his career as a diver. "I don't think the body image issues come from anything to do with the media," he said. "My body image came from within my sport—it was hammered into me that I was overweight and needed to lose weight in order to perform."
He also said that body issues can be come with the territory of being an athlete. "Lots of people would look at athletes and be like: 'What are you talking about? You're an athlete, you're in shape, you have nothing to worry about,'" he said. "But especially as a diver, you're up on the diving board and you're so naked, so visible, so it's quite hard to be content with your body, because you always want to be better."
Eating disorders affect at least 9% of the global population, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD). Additionally, 10,200 deaths each year are the direct result of an eating disorder. About one in three people struggling with an eating disorder is male, states the National Eating Disorders Association.
Daley didn't place a label on his disordered eating habits. But bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder where someone may binge large amounts of food and then purge, either by making themselves throw up or using laxatives, per the Mayo Clinic. People with bulimia also are typically preoccupied with their weight and body shape.
Now, Daley said he needs to get "a lot of sleep" to feel healthy. He also explained that he likes to eat, "so if there's no food in the house then I will definitely be slightly cranky. Working out, or just going for a walk, turns my mood around."
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