‘My motivation was my daughter’ – Angela Scanlon opens up about 15 year eating disorder battle

Angela Scanlon has detailed her 15-year battle with eating disorders during an interview on British TV this week.

The television presenter (40) spoke about her anorexia and bulimia on ITV’s Loose Women show on Tuesday.

“It isn’t necessarily one or the other. They go in cycles, it can sometimes feel really bleak,” she said.

“From my late teens or early 20s, for 15 years, I was in a bad place. For me, the turning point was a friend of mine, who was also suffering, saying we are just going to have the illnesses forever.”

The One Show host has penned a deeply personal book called Joyrider, in which she describes her troubles and how she emerged on the other side.

“And to (my friend) it felt like a comforting, a support in numbers. But for me, I really kicked against that notion of having to stay in that very small space for a long time.”

The Meath native described how her eating disorder began in her teens, and by the age of 20 she would often just drink coffee with a small bit of tinned pineapple.

“I think an eating disorder is about trying to control things, when everything feels out of your power,” she said.

“It took me much longer to recognise I'd replaced the eating disorder with work, as I believed I'd sorted myself out.

“I'd built a career and a life I enjoyed. But it wasn't until later I realised that when I slowed down, the problems were still the same. I think anyone with an addiction will recognise it's easy to swap one for another.”

Ms Scanlon revealed she called her book Joyrider as a reference to swerving into “sweeter lanes” throughout life.

“Writing Joyrider was freeing. There was something cathartic about it. People think we can only talk about things when we're ready, but there's something so powerful about talking about it when you're still in the process because healing is happening all the time,” she said.

She also hosts Thanks A Million, a gratitude inspired podcast which is now in its sixth series. She added that family also helped her get through difficult times.

“I recognised something had to change. My motivation was my daughter. I didn't want her to pick up on these habits I had, see them as normal and replicate them,” she said.

“For my own mental health I was very determined to do this differently, because I wasn't chasing myself back into work," she said, referring to the decision to take additional maternity leave.”

Ms Scanlon recently replaced Graham Norton as Virgin Radio’s weekend presenter.

She recently admitted that she felt “quite lonely” at the start of the job and pretended to be more experienced than she was.

“I was too afraid to say guys, ‘I don’t know what open and switch means you’re going to have to literally break this down for me.’ I should have openly said, ‘These are my limitations, I’m going to need help: I think I can do it, I’m pretty sure I can, but I might need you to give me a hand’,” she said.

“Whereas I just shut up shop and had to pretend that I knew exactly what I was doing which was quite lonely.

“I had fooled myself into believing that if I reached these things that I’d be great, everything would be fantastic.”

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

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