Man loses 14st in one year after being diagnosed with binge eating disorder

Bryan Spark saw a 14st weight loss in just one year. (SWNS)
Bryan Spark saw a 14st weight loss in just one year. (SWNS)

A man who weighed 33st lost 14st in just one year after being diagnosed with binge eating disorder.

Bryan Spark, 48, says he has an ‘addictive personality’ which saw him switch to food after he quit alcohol a decade ago.

His weight then slowly climbed from 18st to 33st across the space of nine years, which Spark says was mainly down to the “huge portions” he would eat, and feeling the need to “eat all the time” – often clearing his family’s plates as well as his own.

"I've got a very addictive personality," Spark, a full-time carer for his wife, explains. "I was drinking a lot and when I decided to stop drinking, I decided to start eating.

"I put on weight very quickly. I hated myself, it was awful. It felt slow at first but then I realised I had to start buying new clothes, 3XL, 4XL, 5XL and all of a sudden 6XL. Two years ago I really felt myself getting out of control."

Spark, from Dumfries, Scotland, says that he was eating sweets and chocolates between meals, and drinking over two litres of fizzy drinks each day.

However, it was only after he was diagnosed with binge eating disorder and sleep apnoea that he decided he needed to make a change.

"Binge eating sounded like what I had, rather than just being greedy," Spark says. "I thought if I didn't get on top of it, it was going to kill me.

Bryan still hopes to lose another 3st. (SWNS)
Bryan still hopes to lose another 3st. (SWNS)

"My calories in my breakfast alone was 600 calories and some days I would have two bowls – not because I was hungry, just because I wanted it. After breakfast, I'd drink sugary drinks or coffee. For lunch, I'd have at least four bits of bread and then crisps or chocolate. Then I'd go to the fridge and keep picking at stuff until dinner.

"Then for dinner, I'd have more than anybody and if anybody left anything I'd have theirs as well. At night I would have crisps and just watch the telly – and then I would have a big bowl of cereal with sugar again, every night without fail. And that was the bare minimum I would have."

To help him drop the initial weight, Spark was approved to use a weight loss drug called Saxenda, which can help you feel fuller and less hungry, and he also began using a Peloton bike.

In six months, Spark had lost 9st. It was then that his supply of Saxenda ran out and he persevered on his own through diet changes, losing another 5st in the following six months.

"I feel fantastic," he says. "Somebody asked me how I was feeling and I just said lighter.

"I'm as fit as I've ever been and mentally I just feel night and day. Now I can actually pick clothes I want to wear."

He adds that he has now become ‘addicted’ to his Peloton bike and works on a three day on, one day off pattern.

"If it's dry I go out cycling as well," he says. "So I've been doing two lots of cycling a day. I'm doing at least 20/30 miles now."

Spark still hopes to drop another 3st, and says he has managed to rewire his brain into knowing when he is hungry and when he isn’t.

Bryan credits his Peloton bike with helping him to get healthy. (SWNS)
Bryan credits his Peloton bike with helping him to get healthy. (SWNS)

"I'm happy being fit and healthy. That's my main objective now. If I don't get down to the 16th, it's not my main priority anymore," he says.

"I use a smaller bowl for my cereal now. Handful [of cereal] with semi-skimmed milk. "For lunch I'll have two or three Ryvita with peanut butter – if I'm going out cycling – otherwise a boiled egg. And then at night I'll have my dinner and I'll make sure I'll have a smaller plate of food.

"I've never been proud of myself, it's a hard thing for me to do. But looking at people's reactions to what I've done is helping me build confidence."

According to the charity BEAT, binge eating disorders account for 22% of all eating disorders in the UK.

The NHS defines binge eating disorder as eating a lot of food in a small amount of time until you are uncomfortably full. It is a serious mental health issue.

Common symptoms of binge eating disorder include eating when not hungry, eating very fast during a binge, eating secretly or by yourself, and feeling depressed, ashamed, disgusted, or guilty after a binge.

While it can affect men and women of any age, it is more likely to develop in people in their 20s.

If you feel you may have binge eating disorder and want help, you can call BEAT on its adult helpline at 0808 801 0677 or its youth helpline on 0808 801 0711.

Additional reporting by SWNS.