Gary’s bu­limia bat­tle

Take That’s Gary Bar­low opens up about his se­cret bat­tle with bu­limia and how food binges al­most killed him…

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Some peo­ple self-med­i­cate with drink or drugs; I just eat and eat and eat.’ This is just one of the heartrend­ing quotes from Gary Bar­low’s new au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, in which he dis­cusses de­tails of his bu­limia and his un­healthy re­la­tion­ship with food.

The singer-song­writer, now 47, is ar­guably at his fittest – but he ad­mits it’s taken years of de­spair to get there.

In his book, aptly named

A Bet­ter Me, Gary says he al­most killed him­self with com­fort food binges, as he thought get­ting fat would make him ‘in­vis­i­ble’ to the pub­lic af­ter his sec­ond solo al­bum flopped in 1999. ‘Not be­ing recog­nised feels won­der­ful,’ he says. ‘The more weight I put on, the eas­ier life be­comes. Fat, I’m in­vis­i­ble. With ev­ery day and ev­ery binge, I am eat­ing the pop star to death.’

He adds, ‘I am eat­ing like an an­i­mal – barely chew­ing and al­most growl­ing as I suck the food down.’

At his heav­i­est, Gary, who had grown to ‘hate him­self’, tipped the scales at over 17st, hav­ing spent months holed up in his man­sion ‘chain-smok­ing, get­ting stoned and eat­ing huge bowls of ce­real’. His binge eat­ing height­ened with the solo suc­cess of ex-band­mate Rob­bie Wil­liams, who quit Take That in 1995. Gary says he was ‘haunted’ by Rob­bie. ‘The more weight I put on, the less I hear the word “Rob­bie,”’ he writes.

In a typ­i­cal day, he ad­mits he’d skip break­fast, but scoff baked pota­toes, tuna pasta, sacks of fruit, trays of sushi, rice cakes, sa­chets of low-calo­rie soup, 19 cups of cof­fee, gal­lons of Diet Coke, fol­lowed by a ‘skinny ladies’ lunch and a mas­sive restau­rant din­ner, with a sleep­ing pill to take the edge off it all.’

Gary was of­ten branded the ‘fat’ one of Take That, and faced hurt­ful jibes. Sadly, his ob­ses­sion with food, com­bined with a des­per­a­tion to lose weight, turned into bu­limia. He took steps to hide his eat­ing dis­or­der from wife Dawn, 48, who he has three chil­dren with – son Daniel, 18, and daugh­ters Emily, 16, and Daisy, nine – mak­ing him­self sick in the bath­room of his record­ing stu­dio at the back of his house, so that they were well out of earshot. He ad­mits that at the height of his bu­limia, he could make him­self sick in just 30 sec­onds. ‘The first time I did it, it took me 15 min­utes to get the job done – now it takes me 30 sec­onds,’ he says.

‘I lay a towel down to kneel on… fin­gers go down my throat and I press down.’ He con­tin­ues, ‘I go back to bed and lie awake… my heart rac­ing, sore throat, wor­ry­ing and over­stim­u­lated. I can never sleep af­ter I’ve done it.’

Tired of one binge af­ter an­other and nu­mer­ous failed di­ets, Gary fi­nally con­fided in Dawn be­fore vis­it­ing his GP in 2005, who told him he was obese.

He shed a stag­ger­ing 18lb in just one week af­ter dis­cov­er­ing the Hem­s­ley sis­ters’ healthy food ser­vice, and has never looked back.

To­day, Gary is phys­i­cally half the man he used to be and, more im­por­tantly, hap­pier.

‘I am eat­ing like an an­i­mal’

Gary on a fam­ily hol­i­day

Take That in 1991

He now looks fit­ter than ever With the Hem­s­ley sis­ters, Jas­mine and Melissa

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