Portia de Rossi's Anorexia Battle

Portia de Rossi has been on hit TV shows (Ally McBeal, Arrested Development) and is happily married to talk-show host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres. But for 15 years, the successful 37-year-old actress carried a dark secret: She suffered from anorexia and bulimia.
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At her lowest weight of 82 pounds, she was living on about 300 calories a day, mostly tuna, yogurt, egg whites and sugar-free gelatin -- which she ate slowly with chopsticks. She shares her story in her memoir, Unbearable Lightness, and talked with LHJ's entertainment editor, Susan Pocharski, about what she learned along the way.

Why write about your eating disorder?

I wanted to figure out how I got myself into that situation -- and how I got out of it. It's been cathartic, going back through my life and looking at how I could have helped myself along the way. When I look back, I see a girl who thought she was taking control of things. I also see a girl who was completely out of control.

You started modeling at age 12. Did that contribute to the pressure you felt to be thin?

I'd have people look at my body and talk directly to me about what was wrong with it, which is hard when you're 13. Modeling made me think that my looks were more important than what I thought or did.

In the book, you talk about the rituals you developed around food. Can you share some details?

I only ate with chopsticks because it seemed logical to me that if I slowed down when I ate, I would eat less. I had rules about how much food should be on the chopstick: I'd allow myself a half-inch of food, so it only reached the tips of the chopsticks. I'd only eat at certain times of the day. I'd eat dinner at 5, then run on my treadmill for hours, to make sure I had burned up the calories before going to sleep.

Continued on page 2:  82 Pounds


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