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Dustin LindenSmith

father | musician | writer

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Portia deRossi on dieting and nutrition

The beautiful actress and model Portia deRossi (now known as Portia deGeneres after legally adopting her wife Ellen deGeneres' name last week), appeared on Oprah yesterday to promote her new book Unbearable Lightness and to speak candidly about her battles with anorexia and bulimia. Near the outset of the show, she told a heartrending story about how she ended her first day of shooting on the TV series Ally McBeal. She started an enormous eating binge with a bag of Cheetos in order that they might act as a landmark for her at the end of the night. When she saw the bright orange chunks hit the toilet bowl at the end of that night's purge, she would know that her stomach was finally empty. At the height of her disorder, she weighed only 82 pounds, and after collapsing on a movie set at the age of 25, learned that she had osteoporosis, cirrhosis of the liver, and that her organs were nearly ready to start shutting down. In short, she nearly died from malnourishment.

I've never been one to purge, I've only binged. But I really empathized with parts of her story, and that story brought me to tears a couple of times. When Oprah told Portia about how playing Ellen deGeneres's therapist on Ellen's sitcom during the episode when she came out of the closet inspired the largest onslaught of hate mail Oprah had ever received in her entire career, Portia broke down into tears and that made me cry, too. I also teared up a little when Portia explained how much Ellen's unconditional love towards her has helped her to heal herself. "If someone as wonderful as Ellen can love me for who I am, maybe I should, too." I found that so unbelievably touching, I don't know why. I think just the idea of receiving unconditional love from someone no matter what you look like or how you act is not an entirely natural one to me.

Right at the end of the show, she summed up her experiences so poignantly I had to transcribe it. The idea of chronic dieting being its own hell resonated untellingly strongly with me.
Living with anorexia and bulimia is hell. But chronic dieting is also hell. Living your entire life never feeling good enough about your body – always feeling like if you weighed a little less, somehow you'd be happier, your life would be better – is a horrible way to live. And it's a very short step from a full-blown eating disorder, but really the only way I recovered from my eating disorder (and from chronic dieting) was to never, ever restrict any kind of food – not even portion size. And that really is the only way food loses its power over you.

If you can have something every day, as much as you want, you tend not to want to have as much of it anymore. And after a period of time, you actually eat what your body needs, what makes you happy, and you don't think about food ever again. That is how I healed myself.

– Portia deRossi, on Oprah yesterday
Edit:dizziedumb just posted a few trailers about food movies that sort of speak to parts of this issue here.

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dizziedumb November 2nd, 2010
hey, thanks for the link!

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