It can be challenging to deal with an eating disorder; it can be even more difficult for loved ones to convince the affected individual that he or she has a problem that needs to be addressed. Many people suffering from this type of addiction will not even realise that they have become so obsessed with their weight and body image that it has made them extremely unhealthy. One young woman who battled an eating disorder as she desperately tried to decrease her weight to look like her idol Cheryl is Sophie Braithwait. She had to rely on the support from her boyfriend and family to get through her addiction and get her to where she is today.

Extremely Ill

Nineteen-year-old Sophie from Sheffield found herself battling the notorious eating disorder anorexia nervosa when she was just seventeen, at which time she wanted to look exactly like her idol Cheryl. Her weight plummeted to just 5st 13lbs, and she was living off just one apple a day in the hope that she would shrink to look like the star. Sophie said, “I’d spend so much time looking at Cheryl and wishing I was as thin as her. Even though people around me were saying negative things about her weight – to me she looked perfect. The reality was that I was extremely ill and a lot thinner than she was, but I just couldn’t see it.”


Sophie first started having an issue with her size when she was sixteen and had shaved her hair off to raise money for Cancer Research. At this point, she weighed a healthy 9st 10lbs for her 5ft 2in frame, but she downloaded a calorie-counting app as she was desperate to lose weight. “Suddenly I became self-conscious of my chubby cheeks. As my hair started to grow back, I was trolled by schoolmates who told me I looked like a butch lesbian. I cut out junk food and started eating healthily, and I reached my target of 8st within a month. But soon I became obsessed with seeing my weight fall further. I was still eating three meals a day, but my portion sizes were small.”

By July 2014, Sophie’s weight had decreased dramatically to 7st 6lbs as a result of her eating disorder; her mother June realised that there was something seriously wrong and insisted that her daughter go to the GP. The doctor recommended that Sophie eat two full-fat ice creams every day until she felt comfortable eating higher calorie meals.

‘I Didn’t Feel Comfortable’

Sophie explained, “I thought it was ridiculous, and just carried on restricting my diet. I refused to eat any food that wasn’t plain. All sauces and flavouring, including salt, were off limits. I weighed out everything I ate, and even when I was eating out, I had a set of scales in my bag to measure portions. I also exercised for two hours a day, seven days a week.”

Sophie returned to her GP in September 2014 and was diagnosed with anorexia; she was referred to an eating disorder charity in Sheffield to assess her situation. She said, “Unfortunately, I didn’t feel comfortable and decided not to attend any more sessions, and over the next few months I only got worse. I didn’t feel like the clinic was helping me. Seeing how thin other outpatients were only made my anorexia worse. And it was then that I developed my obsession with Cheryl Cole. Every session I told my therapist that I wanted to look like her and be as skinny as her. I even had photographs of Cheryl that I’d printed out, and I would show them to my therapists and tell them how amazing she was.”

Low Point

Sophie realised just how unhealthy she was when she fainted as a doctor tried to take a blood sample from her. She said, “My blood pressure was so low that my body couldn’t take it. I was really shocked, and I suddenly realised how ill I was. I’d let myself get to such a low point, and I knew I needed to get better.”

She began working on her recovery in December 2015 and was determined to overcome her eating disorder. Her boyfriend, Gregg Slater, supported her every step of the way, and the couple would enjoy takeaways at home and even go out for meals together. Over the next few months, Sophie increased her portion sizes and made sure she was eating balanced meals by meeting with a nutritional therapist.

Vicious Cycle

Sophie has now overcome the eating disorder, and her weight has increased to 8st 7lbs. She no longer feels the need to count calories and does not weigh herself anymore. She added, “I know I’ve gained more weight, but l feel happy and confident with how I look. Now I know what nourishes my body and I recognise the importance of taking care of myself. I eat three healthy meals a day, and if I’m hungry in-between and need a snack, then I’ll have one. I can’t believe I ever obsessed over a celebrity’s body. I’ve now realised that even fittest person is trying to aspire to look like someone else, but it’s a vicious cycle and no way to live your life. Everyone is a different body shape, and you can’t try to make yourself look like something you’re not. Anorexia is a dangerous illness, and I’ll never neglect my body again.”

Help and Support with an Eating Disorder

It can be extremely challenging to beat an eating disorder, and the individual may have difficulty in recognising that he or she is suffering from one.

If you need help in supporting a loved one who is battling an eating disorder, then contact us here at Liberty House. We specialise in helping these individuals, and we want nothing more than for them to successfully overcome their disorder and go on to lead a happy, healthy life. If you require any further information, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with us today.

Source: Teenager who starved herself to look like singer Cheryl shrunk to only 5st 13lbs after developing anorexia (