Florence Welch suffered from an eating disorder from age 17 (AFP via Getty Images)

Florence Welch has spoken candidly about the lasting emotional impact of suffering from anorexia nervosa.

In a new interview, the lead singer of Florence and the Machine said she struggles with embracing love and happiness after years of feeling like she did not “deserve to feel comfortable”.

“I think part of it is long-term recovery from eating disorders,” she told Rolling Stone.

“So much of that is rejecting nourishment – ‘I don’t deserve to eat, I don’t deserve to feel comfortable’,” she explained, adding that “anorexic thinking” is still a part of her life, even though she has recovered.

“And so, with emotional intimacy, which is kind of like being fed, sometimes you can be like, ‘No, that’s too much, I don’t need it’.”

Welch, 35, first publicly opened up about her struggles with anorexia on the 2018 single “Hunger”, in which she sings: “At seventeen, I started to starve myself.”

Of the approximate 1.25 million people in the UK who suffer from an eating disorder, around eight percent have anorexia. The average age of onset for the disorder is 16-17 years old.

Last month, Welch told British Vogue that some of the anorexic thoughts she used to deal with resurfaced during the Covid-19 pandemic. She said it was a “a miracle” that she was able to resist her old patterns with food.

“There were moments when I was like, ‘Should I be starting to cut back on my sugar? Or should I do a cleanse? ‘ And that for me is just a slippery slope, ”she said.

“Anorexia provides a feeling of certainty, because you’re just like, I’m going to control this. Luckily, I have people I can talk to and that’s one of the most important things for anyone – to keep talking about it. And not to be ashamed if those thoughts come up. “

In January, figures from NHS England showed that the number of young people being admitted to hospital with eating disorders rose by more than 10 per cent in 2021.

At the time, the Royal College of Psychiatrists said the data showed that “a hidden epidemic of eating disorders has surged during the pandemic”.

In 2019, Welch told British Vogue that eating disorders and addiction are “rife” in her family, and that from a young age she thought she was “not good enough, not smart enough, not thin enough”.

“I am still trying to understand what makes young women go to war with themselves,” she said.

She disclosed that she had stopped weighing herself four years ago – she described this as an “everyday miracle”.

“Five years ago, I could have told you how much in the morning, at night, clothes on, clothes off. With and without jewelery. To let go of that sometimes feels like a bigger achievement than headlining Glastonbury, ”she said.

“I try not to think of any food as bad or good. It took me a long time, but the obsession has lifted. And I had to do the worst thing I could think of – start talking about it.

“An eating disorder wants you silent, ashamed, isolated. It will tell you anything to keep you all to itself. It’s probably telling you right now that you shouldn’t say its name, that it’s your friend.

“But your body is more than a thing to be looked at, it works with you, not against you.”

For anyone struggling with the issues raised in this article, eating disorder charity Beat‘s helpline is available 365 days a year on 0808 801 0677. NCFED offers information, resources and counselling for those suffering from eating disorders, as well as their support networks. Visit eating-disorders.org.uk or call 0845 838 2040.

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