The Impact of Elton John’s Courageous Battle with Eating Disorders

Elton John is a music legend and icon known for so much, including, but not at all limited to, his talent, timelessness, advocacy, and charity work. While he has undoubtedly had many impactful life experiences and encounters in his illustrious career and lifetime, Elton John reports that three simple words changed his life – “I need help.” John has spent many years courageously speaking out about his challenges with mental health, addiction, and eating disorder.

These issues came to life in the 2019 biopic “Rocketman,” a film that depicts his upbringing, rise to fame, and the challenges he has worked to overcome.

Elton John’s Challenges with Eating Disorder

Elton John struggled with eating disorder but lived to make a large impact on manySome of these challenges included eating disorder behaviors, specifically bulimia nervosa, which he received treatment for. In a 2010 interview with Piers Morgan, John describes some of these behaviors as he details this chaotic period of his life where he reports he “lost complete touch with” reality [1].”

John has been sober for 30 years and states, of this time in his life, “I vowed when I did change my life that that would never happen again [1].” Although the world refers to him as many things, in an interview with Variety magazine, John spoke about how he views himself, stating – “I am a survivor…I’ve survived a lot of things. Life is full of pitfalls, even when you’re sober. I can deal with them now because I don’t have to run away and hide.”

Elton John provides a unique and valuable look at an LGBTQ+ man that struggles with disordered eating and is openly and authentically talking about it.

In a 2019 interview with the New York Times, John shared, “I’ve always tried to be as honest as I can, since I got sober. I think there’s no point in sugarcoating anything — this is what happened, this is how I behaved, this is a real sad story of someone who was trying to get to grips with his past [3].”

Elton John’s Impact

In speaking to the truth of his experience, Elton John has provided validation and visibility for men and LGBTQ+ individuals that may struggle with eating disorders, addiction, mental health, or all-of-the-above.

Both of these populations are incredibly vulnerable to eating disorders and disordered eating and exercise behaviors, yet, they are often not viewed as the typical “eating disorder population.” Eating disorders are mental illnesses that can lead to isolation, shame, guilt, and hopelessness.

Learning that a man as legendary, successful, and iconic as Elton John can struggle for over 16 years with these demons, achieve recovery and sobriety, and continue to thrive, not only brings inspiration to all, but comfort and hope to those men and LGBTQ+ individuals that identify with his story in so many ways.


[1] Mallon, M. (2019). Elton John opens up about his sobriety: “I survived a lot of things” [EXCLUSIVE]. Variety. Retrieved from

[2] Ryzik, M. (2019). Elton John and Bernie Taupin on how “rocketman’ captures an r-rated life. The New York Times. Retrieved from

About the Author:

Image of Margot Rittenhouse.Margot Rittenhouse, MS, PLPC, NCC is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims, and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth.

As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published November 26, 2020, on
Reviewed & Approved on November 26, 2020, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC