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Jane Fonda opens up about trying to recover from her eating disorder: ‘Really, really hard’

"It was really, really, really, really hard.”

Jane Fonda is opening up about her recovery from a past eating disorder.

The “Grace and Frankie” star and activist, 84, has been candid in the past about her struggles with bulimia in her younger years.

In a recent interview on “The Checkup: With Dr. David Agus,” a new reality series on Paramount+, the actor recalled how she tried to overcame her disordered eating.

“If I had it to do over and it was nowadays, I’d probably go to a 12-step program or something, 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,” Fonda said. “I’m talking ‘60s, ‘50s.”

Fonda said she made a change because she saw how her disordered eating was affecting her life and ambitions.

Jane Fonda speaks at the 2022 Pennsylvania Conference For Women.
Jane Fonda spoke at the 2022 Pennsylvania Conference For Women on Oct. 6, 2022 ,in Philadelphia, Penn.Marla Aufmuth / Getty Images

“I was married, I had children, I was politically active, I was raising money, I was an actor, I was making movies. I couldn’t do it all because the older you get, the more toll it takes on you,” she said. “If you binge and purge, it’s like three or four days to really recover. And I just couldn’t do the lifestyle that I wanted to do.”

“I thought my life was worth improving, so I just decided that I would stop,” she continued. “And it was really, really, really, really hard.”

“The good news is that that you can recover from eating disorders. 100%,” she added.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), people recover from eating disorders in different ways, and recovery is often a gradual, non-linear process.

“Recovery from an eating disorder can take months, even years. Slips, backslides, and relapse tend to be the rule, rather than the exception,” the organization says on its website. “Re-learning normal eating habits and coping skills can take a long period of time and often requires lots of support from professionals, friends, and family.”

NEDA, which offers phone and text helplines for people struggling with an eating disorder, also notes that “although everyone has the potential to recover fully, not everyone will,” due to complex factors around access to treatment and sociocultural barriers. 

Nevertheless, “even for those who don’t recover completely, treatment can often make dramatic improvements in level of symptoms and quality of life,” NEDA says.

Fonda has been open about her health over the years.

In September, the actor revealed on Instagram that she has been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a form of cancer, and had begun chemotherapy treatments.

“Cancer is a teacher and I’m paying attention to the lessons it holds for me,” she wrote in a lengthy post. “One thing it’s shown me already is the importance of community. Of growing and deepening one’s community so that we are not alone. And the cancer, along with my age — almost 85 — definitely teaches the importance of adapting to new realities.”