Bake Off winner John Whaite discusses his struggles with bulimia

Tom Horton, PA
·2-min read

Celebrity baker John Whaite has said he has suffered with an eating disorder and has had a “very complicated” relationship with food.

He discussed his experiences of bulimia with Channel 4’s Steph’s Packed Lunch.

Whaite said he has not previously spoken publicly about living with the condition.

“My body image as I grew up was very difficult… I was so conscious of being fat,” he said.

“But one thing I was aware of as being problematic for 12, 14 years was overeating and then purging.

“The painful forcing down of food and then that instant need to get that out of me.”

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterised by binge eating followed by purging, which can include vomiting, taking laxatives, fasting or exercising excessively.

The series three The Great British Bake Off winner added it has been “very difficult to overcome and I think that is down to the stigma of an eating disorder”.

“Especially as a chef, I didn’t really want to talk about it because I felt like it kind of undermined my entire career,” he said.

“How can a chef who writes recipes and books and cooks on TV, how can he realistically have bulimia?”

He added: “If I was making a batch of muffins and something went wrong in my life that day, or around that time, I would sit there and I would eat all 12 of the muffins and then I’d run to the bathroom and I’d make myself sick.”

Whaite said after talking about the disorder he feels like “a weight has been lifted”.

He added: “It feels good to talk about it.

“I’ve been an advocate for mental health since being on Bake Off and when I’ve talked to my psychotherapist about this, I didn’t really realise I had an eating disorder until about two years ago when she said, ‘This is bulimia’.

“Until that point, I just thought it was a slight way of coping with overeating, I didn’t think it was a huge problem.”

Since winning Bake Off Whaite has published books, written for the Telegraph and featured on television programmes.