Sam Heughan has opened up about his mental health struggles when he first became a TV star. The actress, from Balmaclellan, Dumfries, confesses having a "low level" eating disorder caused by rigorous diets and exercise.
In Waypoints: My Scottish Journey, the 43-year-old actor, who plays Jamie Fraser, said he would "literally starve himself" to look his best while striving to succeed as an actor. He wrote: "I was careful with my diet but now realize I need to eat more to survive. I watched my calorie intake and worried how each meal may affect my job prospects.
I now realize I had a low-level eating disorder at that time. The need for actors to appear a specific way sometimes drives me crazy." "I rationed my diet, often eating only salad and pickles because they were low in calories. I wasn't getting enough nourishment for all the running, let alone a long setup day.
"Conformity pressure on women is often discussed. I felt that expectation, therefore I kept a healthy diet and workout routine. As I navigated an industry where actors are helpless, it was control." Sam became famous in 2014 when he played Jamie Fraser on Starz's Outlander with Caitriona Balfe's Claire Fraser.
Unfortunately for Sam, the show's rapid success has put pressure on him to stay in shape for his hunky Highlander role. He said: “I felt pressure to have a certain body type. I was inexperienced at first. I would starve myself.”
The Express says, “And I forced myself to do crazy amounts of cardio to sort of lean down as much as I could”. The earlier seasons of Outlander emphasized Jamie's chiseled figure, which put pressure on Sam to stay active.
The actor told Audible: "It wasn't healthy. However, it helped me learn about a healthy lifestyle." Sam has started a lifestyle initiative to raise awareness about how body image norms can harm mental health.
The charity's website states: “My Peak Challenge is a global movement dedicated to educating and inspiring its members to live healthier, happier, and more balanced lives while raising funds to change lives. “Our motto is: Help yourself while helping others.”