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Jane Fonda Opens Up About Eating Disorder Battle in Her Early Career

Jane Fonda
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The 85-year-old actress shared how bulimia affected her during the early stages of her career.

Though Jane Fonda has experienced a long and rewarding career, her journey hasn't come without struggles.

The 85-year-old actor recently opened up about her battle against bulimia on the latest episode of Spotify's Call Her Daddy podcast, which Fonda said was one of the most difficult periods of her life.

"In my 20s I was starting to be a movie actor. I suffered from bulimia very, very bad. I led a secret life," she said. "I was very, very unhappy. I assumed I wouldn't live past 30 ... I didn't go out. I didn't hardly date 'cause I was unhappy and I had this eating disorder. And then I was also making movies that I didn't very much like."

Fonda said that while her condition seemed "so innocent" and "so innocuous" at the time, it quickly overwhelmed her life as "a terrible addiction."

"It harms the way you look. You end up looking tired. It becomes impossible to have an authentic relationship when you're doing this secretly," she said. "Your day becomes organized around getting food and then eating it, which requires that you're by yourself and that no one knows what you're doing. It's a very lonely thing. And you're addicted. If you put any food in you, you want to get rid of it."

The condition began physically limiting the actor as she got older, who added she thought she could "get away with it" in her youth.

"As you get older, the toll that it takes on you, it becomes worse and worse," Fonda explained. "It takes days and then at least a week to get over one single binge. It's not just the fatigue. You become angry. You become hostile. All of the trouble that I got in was because of that anger and that hostility."

It wasn't until her 40s that Fonda found herself with loving children and fulfilling involvement in politics that she realized the harm that had been done, especially as her body could not keep up with the physical strain anymore.

Fonda said she thought at the time, "If I keep on like this, I'm going to die," then added, "My life was important, but I was becoming less and less able to continue it."

That realization caused her to quit "cold turkey," which she said was incredibly difficult, but changed the trajectory of her life for good.

"I didn't realize there were groups you could join. I didn't know anything about that. Nobody talked about it! I didn't even know there was a word for it," Fonda said. "And so I just went cold turkey and it was really hard. But the fact is, the more distance you can put between you and the last binge, then the better it is. It becomes easier and easier."

If you or a loved one are struggling with disordered eating, the NEDA helpline is available online or by phone.

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