James Argent has revealed that he was placed in an eating disorder unit during his first trip to rehab after going to treat a drink and drug addiction.
The former TOWIE star has struggled with binge eating for years before having a gastric sleeve fitted last year.
And speaking to MailOnline, the reality star has now revealed that staff at a rehab center were the first one to identify his issues with food, and tried to teach him coping strategies such as mindful eating.
Rehab: James Argent, who has struggled with binge eating for years, has revealed that he was placed in an eating disorder unit during his first trip to rehab
‘When I actually went to rehab for the first time, I went there initially for my problems with drink and drugs or whatever, and after a few days I got put in the eating disorder unit,’ James explained of his unexpected diagnosis.
James said he has continued with the techniques he was taught, revealing: ‘They tried to teach me to do mindful eating instead of shoving it down, put your phone away, relax, chew your food plenty of times, let the meal last 20 minutes, don’t rush your food so that’s what I’m trying to do now.
But he added that his binge eating struggles felt like a lot to deal with alongside his issues with alcohol and drugs. ‘You start to go a bit mad, cos you’re like, “Oh how many problems have I got, how many issues can one man possibly have,”‘ he said.
‘With a lot of addicts, you’re not specifically addicted, like for example for alcoholics if alcohol is taken away, they can get addicted to something else whether it be food, love, gambling, so it’s not necessarily the specific drug or alcohol, sex or gambling, it can be addiction as a whole.’
Before and after: Arg was told he was putting his health at risk with his weight before having gastric sleeve surgery last year (pictured before left)
‘For me, when I took away the drink and the drugs that led me back to food, it can be a vicious cycle.’
James also revealed to MailOnline that he still has to be mindful when it comes to his diet, despite having his gastric band fitted.
‘I do actually still get hungry, people think do you still get hungry anymore but I do,’ he pointed out. ‘I just have to be careful that I don’t shove it in too quickly or take too big mouthfuls, I need to eat, they say it’s 20/20/20, so you have on your fork you have food the size of a 20 pence piece, 20 chews and then you wait 20 seconds until you go again.’
‘And I’ll be honest with you, I can’t do a great deal in one hit but I try and eat little and often so I embarrass my friends. Basically anyone I go out for dinner with, I embarrass because I go for dinner, order what I fancy or want.’
Binge eating: Speaking to MailOnline, the reality star has revealed that staff at a rehab center were the first one to identify his issues with food and help taught him mindful eating (pictured before his surgery and weight loss in 2020)
Looking great: The star also revealed that his friends are embarrassed to go to dinner with him now as he has to eat little and often and will often ask for a doggy bag to go
‘But I can’t just go to nice restaurants and order a nice meal and then only have a few bites and that’s it, I always get doggy bags, every single time what I don’t manage to get through I take it home with me.’
James has said that his drink and drug abuse has in the past had ‘terrible effects’ on his loved ones – even leading some to seek therapy to cope.
He explained how his mother and best friends would worry that he would die due to his addiction – at a time when they had distanced themselves in order to not enable him.
James said his family are happy he is ‘doing well’ in his sobriety, as he spoke encouragingly about how he has managed to stay clean and his focused on recovery, using tactics to combat his cravings when they arise.
Honest: The reality star has revealed that his drink and drug abuse has in the past had ‘terrible effects’ on his loved ones – even leading some to seek therapy to cope
James added that he he knows there is a fear of ‘potentially relapsing’ so he must take his recovery ‘seriously’.
The wedding singer has battled drink and drug addiction since finding fame on the ITVBe show in 2010, and most recently suffered a blip in his recovery last month.
He told us: ‘My using has terrible effects on other people like my mum and close friends cos they panic thinking their son or best mate’s gonna die.
‘I’m giving other people anxiety and sleepless nights and other people have had to have therapy off the back of my issues.
‘You can see it in their eyes and faces how happy they are that I’m doing so well and I’m working hard as well, I’m not being arrogant or cocky or confident, I’m still, there is still that fear of potentially relapsing so I need to just be humble and take my recovery seriously.
He continued: ‘There is still that fear of potentially relapsing. I used to do everything in my power for it not to come out, for it not to be leaked, I used to beg my manager please if there are any stories on my drugs or alcohol use, you’ve got to get it stopped.
‘I would have sleepless night and think if this story comes out, my life’s over, my career’s over.’
The former TOWIE star, 34, told in an exclusive interview with MailOnline how his mother Patricia (pictured together) and best friends would worry that he would die due to his addiction