Tuesday 1 March 2016

Part #1 of my talk: "Eating disorders are not just a 'girl thing'"

It all started in the spring of 2009 when our son Ben was 15. He'd been quite chubby at primary school and had been bullied as a result.

But at secondary school he got into rugby and developed a new leaner, more muscly physique which he was very proud of.

And because he was the "guy in the rugby team" he was very popular – he had a great group of friends. So during those first two years at secondary school things were going from strength to strength. Life was pretty normal.

But by early 2009 Ben was getting fed up with rugby. However he was worried that if he stopped, he'd get fat again, lose his new physique and stop being popular. He was worried that he would be bullied again, like he'd been at primary school.

The trouble was, Ben loved his food and he didn't really want to cut back on quantity.

So he had a bright idea…

He decided to swap his normal food for diet options so he could do less sport without putting on any weight.

It seemed like perfect solution!

But of course it didn't work out like that. Instead of doing less sport, he began to do more and meanwhile he was cutting back on his food.

And so the downward spiral began…

During that spring he began to insist on "eating healthily" - swapping our usual recipes for ones with less fat and more vegetables, salads and so on. He also began to cut back on snacks like chocolate, ice cream and crisps.

At school dinners he swapped the hot meal and pudding for the salad bar and fruit - and began to eat less and less there, too. And even though the rugby season was over by now, he was still doing lots of sport.

By the summer of 2009 he was doing running, athletics, swimming, the gym, situps, press ups, cycling, you name it.

But so far the alarm bells weren't ringing. We just thought it was a health kick – in fact we were proud of him, all this dedication.

Back then we didn't know that boys got eating disorders. In fact we didn't know much about eating disorders at all. And so we missed all these early cues.


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