Mel C opens up about Spice Girls-era eating disorder

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Mel C has opened up about her battle with an eating disorder during her Spice Girls days, and said that using holistic therapies and talking therapies helped her in her quest to recovery.

The former girl band star, who has previously discussed her struggles with her body image, also said that now - at 42 - she has far better knowledge of food and how it fuels the body.

Mel told BBC Good Food magazine: "I joined the Spice Girls when I was 20 and it was an insane time. I developed an eating disorder; I was in the spotlight, being photographed constantly, and I started to become self-conscious of my body image."

Mel C with the Spice Girls in 1997
Mel C with the Spice Girls in 1997 (JM Enternational AP/PA Images)

Back in her Spice Girls hey-day, Mel - who was nicknamed Sporty Spice - was known for her incredibly fit figure, but it was not happiest time for her.

"I was in denial for a long time but I always wanted to get better - I had talking therapies and holistic therapies, like acupuncture. Sport became really important to me too," she said.

"I love to be physically fit and, obviously, to really push yourself, you have to make sure you eat the right things. I like to think I have a healthy relationship with food now, and I love to cook.

The singer added: "We're so much more aware of nutrition nowadays. When I was a teenager, I didn't know the difference between a protein and a carb.

"We need to get back to realising that we are what we eat."

Mel C, who is still going strong with her post-Spice Girls solo career, recently confessed that she didn't want to join the band's reunion because it would remind her of her negative past.

She turned down a huge pay packet to reunite with them and said: "I'd like to say the money didn't matter to me. I'm a single mother and I do have financial concerns.

"It was a really difficult decision. I didn't take it lightly. I did go quite far down the route with the girls. I went to a lot of meetings but I just didn't feel it was right in my gut. When I finally said no I just felt relief," she told Event magazine.

But now she's feeling much better about her life and her relationship with food and, in the BBC Good Food chat, she praised her mother's incredible cooking.

Mel C
Mel C opens up about past relationship with food and body image struggles (Ian West PA Wire/PA Images)

Spice Girls
Spice Girls (Ian West/PA Archive/PA Images)

She gushed: "My mum, Joan, always found time to cook from scratch when I was young, even though she worked full time and sang in a band.

"She was really organised: she'd do her shopping and would know what we were going to have every day, and used leftovers wisely. A lot of people from Liverpool will know scouse. It is basically Irish stew and I think it originally came to Liverpool with Irish immigrants - there are many in my family tree.

"Lamb or beef, potatoes, carrots and onion are cooked slowly together, and you have it with red cabbage or beetroot. When scouse is on the stove, there's no smell like it. It's like a warm hug."

To read the feature in full, see the December issue of BBC Good Food out now.