Jane Fonda Shared More Details About Her 'Really Hard' Eating Disorder Recovery

She dealt with anorexia and bulimia in a time when there were fewer resources for getting help.

Jane Fonda
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Jane Fonda is opening up about her recovery from an eating disorder and what helped her change her unhealthy relationship with food.

The 84-year-old actress and activist was recently a guest on an episode of Paramount Plus' The Checkup With Dr. David Agus. During the filmed interview, she shared that her eating disorder recovery was "really hard," noting that it took place at a time when fewer resources were available to combat bulimia and anorexia, both of which she struggled with.

"Nowadays, I'd probably go to a 12-step program or something," she said. "But I didn't know what it was. I didn't know there was a name for it, and I didn't know that you could go someplace. I'm talking 1960s, '50s."

Fonda developed an eating disorder in her teens, and it continued into her adulthood, she explained. She had a busy life when she decided she needed to stop her disordered eating. "I was married, I had children, I was politically active, I was raising money, I was an actor, I was making movies," she said. "I couldn't do it all because the older you get, the more toll it [an eating disorder] takes on you."

"If you binge and purge, it's like three or four days to really recover," she continued. "And I just couldn't do the lifestyle that I wanted to do." That's what inspired her to work on her relationship with food, she said.

Fonda previously told People that she recovered from her bulimia by quitting the cycle of bingeing and purgeing "cold turkey," acknowledging that it was "so hard." But doing her signature workouts was helpful for her, the Grace and Frankie star shared at the time. "It gave me back a sense of control over my body."

For her, time also helped the recovery process. "The longer space you put between yourself and the addiction, the easier it gets," she previously told People. "Some people say you can never get over it, but you can."

Eating disorders impact at least nine percent of the population worldwide, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. About 10,200 deaths each year are the direct result of an eating disorder, but there are ways to get help.

Treatment typically involves physical recovery (returning to a normal weight, if weight loss was an issue), and normalizing healthy eating, per the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). Behavioral recovery, which is stopping or dramatically reducing food restriction, over-exercise, purging, and binge eating, along with psychological therapy to address the cognitive and emotional aspects of the eating disorder, are also important elements of recovery, notes NEDA.

Fonda herself has shared that it's important to understand eating disorders aren't about food. "It has to do with filling a hole," she previously told People. "We’re vessels that need to be full in spirits…But there are other ways to fill it."

Recovery from disordered eating can be a long road, according to NEDA. It may take months and even years with backslides and relapses being common. However, support from professionals, friends, and family is typically helpful, notes the organization.

"I thought my life was worth improving, so I just decided that I would stop," Fonda said in her recent interview with Dr. Agus. "And it was really, really, really, really hard. The good news is that you can recover from eating disorders. 100 percent."

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, NEDA's toll-free, confidential helpline (800-931-2237) is here to help.

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