Ed Sheeran debunks myth and speaks candidly about his eating disorder

Ed Sheeran is using his celebrity influence to destigmatize the belief that only women have unhealthy relationships with food.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, the Multiple Grammy-Award winning singer and songwriter Sheeran opened up about his battle with bulimia.

“I’m self-conscious anyway, but you get into an industry where you’re getting compared to every other pop star…and I’m like, ‘Well, why don’t I have a six pack?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, because you love kebabs and drink beer.’ Then you do songs with Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes. All these people have fantastic figures. And I was always like, ‘Well, why am I so … fat?’”

According to People, UK-born Sheeran has been dealing with depression since he was young, when he was teased for being the boy with “bright red hair, big blue glasses, a stutter.”


The 32-year-old ginger-haired Sheeran, known for hit songs like Shape of You and Thinking Out Loud, is one of the world’s most popular singers.

Though some people might scoff when they hear that a successful celebrity has a mental health problem, they–like the average human–are exposed to the toxic beauty standards imposed through social media and Hollywood, and the thrashing of public opinion.

Sheeran told People that Cherry Seaborn, his wife and biggest champion, encouraged him to get therapy. “People think it’s weird getting a therapist in England.… I think it’s very helpful to be able to speak with someone and just vent and not feel guilty about venting. Obviously, like, I’ve lived a very privileged life. So my friends would always look at me like, ‘Oh, it’s not that bad.’”


Sheeran’s struggles were amplified with the death of his close friend, a plagiarism lawsuit that he eventually won, and feeling helpless when Seaborn–six-months pregnant with their second child–was found to have a tumor, which was later removed.

He said he felt helpless.

Debunking the myth that only women are affected by eating disorders, Sheeran said in his interview with Rolling Stone, “There’s certain things that, as a man talking about them, I feel mad uncomfortable. I know people are going to see it a type of way, but it’s good to be honest about them. Because so many people do the same thing and hide it as well.” 

Sheeran is right.

According to The National Library of Medicine (NLM), 25% of men have anorexia or bulimia, likely an underestimate due to a lack of reporting. The study says, “In today’s world, men are expected to hide their vulnerabilities: including depression and shame which are associated with the stigma of being ‘feminine.’”

The NLM also says that “men are more hesitant for seeking help.”

While there’s no instant fix, Sheeran told People, “The help isn’t a button that is pressed, where you’re automatically OK. It is something that will always be there and just has to be managed.”


In October 2022, Sheeran explained on SiriusXM’s The Morning Mash Up, that it’s about balance.

“If you’re eating food that you really wanna eat, but then also exercising and looking the way that you kind of wanna look. I feel like that’s a good, good balance,” Sheeran said. “So I eat, I love fast food. I love curry. I love drinking nice wine. I love all the things that would be bad for you if you didn’t exercise. But I feel like I’d go crazy if it was just no carbohydrates the whole time.”

He continued, “And that’s a really healthy way of being. It’s all about balance.”

It’s not only Sheeran who’s in recovery for an eating disorder.

The legendary Elton John, who Sheeran calls his mentor, reveals in his autobiography ME, that he is bulimic. “It was all through being paranoid about my weight but not able to stop eating. So in the end I’d gorge, then make myself sick…For breakfast I’d have a fry-up, followed by 20 pots of cockles and then a tub of ice cream, so I’d throw it all up.”

Comedian Russell Brand told the Guardian that he started binge-eating and purging when he was only 11. “It was really unusual in boys, quite embarrassing. But I found it euphoric.” And when it briefly returned when he was an adult, Brand said, “It’s about getting out of myself and isolation, feeling inadequate and unpleasant.”


We can’t forget the many women with similar struggles, like the celebrated Karen Carpenter, who in 1983 died at only 32, of complications associated with anorexia; Jane Fonda who had a long battle with bulimia and binge-eating; and Princess Diana, who died in 1997, shortly after her decade-long war with bulimia ended.

The more stories that are shared by high-profile people, the more others will share their personal battles. So, we are grateful that Sheeran, along with others, are so brave and helping people eliminate the feeling of self-shame!

Tell us what you think about Sheeran’s story. And how do you feel about people today being influenced by an unrealistic standard of beauty?