Tom Daley says he had an eating disorder due to weight pressure from his former coach

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Tom Daley.
Tom Daley competing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Getty/Clive Rose
  • Tom Daley struggled with disordered eating in the run-up to the London 2021 Olympics, he said.

  • The British diver fasted for whole days and made himself throw up due to pressure from his then-coach.

  • He now has a healthy relationship with food and eats to fuel his training.

Tom Daley has spoken out about his history of disordered eating driven by pressure from his former coach.

The Olympic diver said he used to cut carbs, make himself sick after eating food such as cake, fast for whole days, and get up early to do "fasted cardio" before eating.

The trigger for his behavior was receiving comments about his weight from his coach, Alexei Evangulov, in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympics, Daley said in his new book "Coming Up For Air."

Daley lost 14 lbs before London 2012

The diver, now 27, told The Telegraph's Mark Bailey he wanted to speak out about his struggles with eating disorders because not many men do.

"I guess there is that stigma around eating disorders that problems with eating only affect women, and it's just not the case," he said. "I have felt the pressure not to talk about things because I didn't want to bother people with it. Or people might not understand. Or they would be like 'oh, don't be silly, you're fine.'"

Daley said that his body being so clearly on display when competing in a small pair of swimming trunks made him feel exposed and anxious.

The gold medalist lost 14 lbs between December 2011 and July 2012, according to The Telegraph, but the weight loss and disordered eating behaviors left him exhausted. After realizing this, he committed to eating more healthily and ultimately won bronze.

"I was able to handle more training, I wasn't hungry all the time, and I didn't find myself bingeing because I was (now) fueling myself correctly," he said.

Daley now knows carbs are key

Daley has worked with a nutritionist in the years since, and now eats to fuel his training, which includes meditation, gym sessions, and cardio.

"I always used to be quite unsure about carbs," he said. "Realizing that they are there to help you, not hinder you, is something that I've figured out."

Daley said he used to train for 2.5 hours after eating only eggs for breakfast, but now knows he needs carbs too.

He doesn't cut out food groups any more.

"If you want to have a treat, have a treat on a day that you've done your workout," Daley said. "I used to really restrict myself all week and then on Sunday I just used to be like, Oh my God, give me all the food!"

He's no longer scared of food, and enjoys it again, he said.

He told The Telegraph that an average day of eating on a training day consists of:

  • Breakfast: 4 scrambled eggs, a bowl of oatmeal, sometimes a bowl of cereal too

  • Lunch: Chicken, rice, and vegetables

  • Dinner: Chicken and prawn paella or tofu stir-fry

  • Snack: Casein protein shake and cherry juice

Daley is not the only athlete to have struggled with disordered eating

An increasing number of elite athletes are speaking out about their experience of eating disorders.

US gymnast Laurie Hernandez, for example, told Insider earlier this year that her former coach weight-shamed her which led to an obsession with food and regular binge-eating and purging. She now eats intuitively.

Former gymnast and now CrossFit star Katrin Davidsdottir told Insider she used to have a "bad" relationship with food and didn't eat bread for 10 years because she was afraid of carbs. She has now learned carbs are an essential fuel source.

Fellow Icelandic CrossFit athlete Sara Sigmundsdottir told Insider she used to under-eat in a bid to be lean, and lost her period for two years as a result.

Read the original article on Insider

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