Bulimia nervosa, commonly known as bulimia, is a severe eating disorder which causes the affected person to binge eat and then make themselves sick shortly afterward. It can be caused by body shaming or identity issues. Flintoff admitted in the documentary that he "probably should get help" with the condition and has suffered with it for years.
One of the major talking points of the documentary is the link between masculinity within sports and eating disorders. Freddie explained that his bulimic tendencies were triggered due to being labelled the "fat cricketer". He said:
"That was horrible. That was when I started doing it"
This behaviour correlated with a decrease in weight and better performances, but locked him in a toxic cycle. He admitted that he "enjoyed the results" of the condition, yet his masculine persona and the pressures of being in the spotlight made him believe that he "should be able to stop".
In the documentary, Flintoff also outlined the strain the eating disorder put on his marriage. He confessed that he had ‘lied a few times’ to her about his condition.
The cricketer also discussed the stigma associated with being male and having bulimia, as well as the mental and physical effects it had on him.
Approximately 1.25 million people in the U.K suffer with an eating disorder. It is estimated that 25% of these are males.Figures from the eating disorder charity, Beat.
The 42-year-old has received widespread praise for speaking so openly about such an intimate and personal issue; with the aim of encouraging others living with the condition to seek help.
Bulimia is often brushed aside by those suffering with it. Since Flintoff is such a well-known athlete, the documentary touches on the possibility that many other athletes may be also struggling with the condition.
What has struck a chord with many people, is Freddie's bravery to speak so candidly about such a serious issue. Especially, given that it is often overlooked, due to the discreet nature of the condition, and his own social status.
Viewers were quick to praise the Top Gear presenter, with one Twitter user calling him "brave, humble, honest’. Another added that Flintoff "made me realise it’s good to talk about it".
To contact the charity Beat: call the helpline 0808 801 0677. Lines are open every day from 9am to 8pm during the week. Nobody should have to suffer in silence with this disorder.