- Publish Date
- Friday, 18 August 2023, 8:08AM
Princess Diana’s struggle with an eating disorder has been described in a new children’s book about her life and legacy.
The latest instalment in the Little People, Big Dreams series that will be released on September 7 will “introduce young readers to the world’s most-loved princess”, but also features the problems she faced with bulimia.
The UK’s eating disorder charity Beat said reading about the conditions can help young people spot signs of them, but advised against writers going into detail about behaviours.
The biography features a description of the eating disorder that Diana suffered from, saying: “Whenever she felt alone, she sought relief by eating all the cakes she could find in the royal kitchens.”
It goes on to describe bulimia in more detail, saying: “But that sweet feeling of comfort didn’t last long. Once it was gone, she would try to get rid of all the food she had eaten by making herself sick.”
One page in the book also says how “even though her life seemed to be taken from the pages of a fairytale, she soon realised that the prince’s heart belonged to someone else … Over time that sadness grew into an eating disorder called bulimia”.
“It took her time to seek help, learn to love herself and stop hurting her body. But once she did, she felt better than ever,” the book goes on to say.
However, the author notes the princess “was one of the first famous people to speak up about her struggle with bulimia, helping others to confront it, too”.
While rumours of the princess’ eating disorder started in the 1980s, she didn’t speak about the topic until much later, addressing it directly in the infamous 1995 Panorama interview with Martin Bashir.
She said: “I had bulimia for a number of years. And that’s like a secret disease. You inflict it upon yourself because your self-esteem is at a low ebb, and you don’t think you’re worthy or valuable. You fill your stomach up four or five times a day — some do it more — and it gives you a feeling of comfort.”
Her candidness about her mental health and her struggles with bulimia was not commonplace at the time of the interview for people in the public eye and the book, written by Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara and illustrated by Archita Khosla, points this out.
Tom Quinn, the director of external affairs for Beat, told The Telegraph that young people reading about eating disorders can help them to “spot the signs more quickly” but said it is crucial it is done in a “sensitive way”.
He said: “Eating disorders affect 1.25 million people across the UK of all ages, and the sooner somebody is able to access help for their eating disorder, the better their chances of making a full recovery.
“Reading about eating disorders can help young people to spot the signs more quickly. However, it’s crucial that books raise awareness in a sensitive and appropriate way.
“We advise that writers avoid going into detail about eating disorder behaviours, calories or weights as this can worsen symptoms for somebody who is unwell, or contribute to an eating disorder developing if someone is vulnerable.
“Writers must also signpost to eating disorder support, to ensure that family members and school staff can help children to access the care that they need. Eating disorders often affect the whole family, and those caring for a child must also be able to read information and advice.”
-Daily Telegraph UK
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