Celebrities and Eating Disorders

Nicola Mclean admits to suffering from an Eating Disorder

This week, the former glamour model and ‘I’m a Celebrity’ contestant, Nicola McClean has admitted to having food/eating related issues, and while she rejects the need for treatment, she does acknowledge that her relationship with food has become markedly strained. Admitting to having a problem but believing to still be in control of the issue is believed to be characteristic of the disorder itself.

When celebrities’ eating habits become public matter


The topic of Eating Disorders makes headlines on a daily basis in the UK.  Eating Disorders are commented on from medical and mental health perspectives and are linked to men and females, people of all ages and socio-economic status, - and increasingly to famous people. This week, the former glamour model and ‘I’m a Celebrity’ contestant, Nicola McClean has admitted to having food/eating related issues, and while she rejects the need for treatment, she does acknowledge that her relationship with food has become markedly strained. Admitting to having a problem but believing to still be in control of the issue is believed to be characteristic of the disorder itself.

Having just given birth to her second child, McClean confesses to going for long periods of time without eating, and to avoiding eating altogether for a whole day, surviving only on Diet Coke and coffee. Watching celebrities succumb to the pressures to adhere to the stick thin ideal of the entertainment industry has become an everyday occurrence and as a society we no longer feel surprised and concerned. Sad as this is, what appears to evoke interest in this candid interview is McClean’s level of honesty concerning this issue.

Eating Disorders are often said to be an addiction to control. Characteristic of Eating Disorders is the level of secrecy and denial that surrounds the disorder. An Eating Disorder is often an expression of an underlying issue that is sought managed by controlling the intake of food. Consequently regaining a sense of control when everything else seems unmanageable can provide the person with a sense of safety and comfort, albeit at the expense of their health. Naturally a person suffering with an eating disorder will not want to readily relinquish this coping mechanism. And in some cases it can take years for a person to move from the stage of admitting to having an issue to actually wanting to do something about it by seeking help.

Perhaps not surprising, typically extremely thin celebrities will express a degree of denial whenever confronted about their eating habits. Many will quickly point out that breast feeding, running around after young kids, and simply forgetting to eat, are causing weight loss, and that no, ‘I don’t have a problem’. Naturally it would not be fair to infer that a significant weight loss equals an Eating Disorder. However, behaviors that can increase the risk of Eating Disorder symptoms include extreme dieting, obsession with weight, size, and food portions and believing that the issue can be managed single handedly is symptomatic of the disordered thinking. Where issues around food develop into an Eating Disorder, recognizing the unmanageability of the condition is a crucial step in stopping the addictive cycle. The old adage ‘actions speak louder than words’ seem to hold particular truth where overcoming an eating disorder or addiction of any kind is concerned. There is no reason why Eating Disorders should be allowed to take hold of you or a loved one’s life. With early detection and proper treatment an Eating Disorder can be overcome.

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