Christina Applegate Speaks Candidly About Her Early Experience With An Eating Disorder

Christina Applegate is speaking candidly about her early experience with an eating disorder for the first time.

On Monday’s episode of her “MeSsy” podcast, Applegate recalls how her struggles with body image began in childhood while in conversation with fellow actor Jamie-Lynn Sigler. Her obsession with staying thin, she said, intensified after she landed the role of Kelly Bundy on the Fox sitcom “Married... With Children,” which premiered in 1987.

“I wanted my bones to be sticking out, so I didn’t eat,” she explained. “It was very scary to everyone on set because they were like: ‘Christina never eats.’ And I didn’t.”

She went on to note: “If I did eat something, I’d punish myself. I was never bulimic or anything like that, I just deprived myself of food for years and years and years. It was torture.”

“Married... With Children” wrapped in 1997 after 11 seasons. Applegate, however, continued to grapple with her eating disorder while working on her next major project, NBC’s “Jesse.” During rehearsals for that series’ second and final season, which aired in 2000, the actor said some of her size zero costumes had to be taken in because she’d become so thin.

Christina Applegate, on right, with her
Christina Applegate, on right, with her "Married... With Children" co-stars Katey Sagal and David Faustino in 1987. Aaron Rapoport via Getty Images

Applegate’s turning point came at some point in her 30s.

“I was sitting on the toilet, and I saw only bones. And it scared the shit out of me,” she said. Her recovery process, however, was just as daunting: “I’d get a smoothie, but I could only drink a third of it. I’d have to throw it out. I’d have to put sugar on my salty food and salt on my sugary food. I would destroy my food so I wouldn’t eat it ― it was so methodical.”

Though Applegate learned to accept her body over the years, she acknowledged that the “demon in my head” has been “coming back really loud” following her diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, after which she gained about 45 pounds.

“I need to be aware of it so I don’t start falling into bad habits of hurting myself,” she said.

Applegate at the 2024 Emmy Awards in January.
Applegate at the 2024 Emmy Awards in January. Monica Schipper via Getty Images

Applegate first confirmed her multiple sclerosis, or MS, diagnosis in 2021, although she now believes she was exhibiting signs of the disease much earlier. Symptoms of the chronic autoimmune condition include tremors, fatigue, vision loss, slurred speech and weakness in limbs.

The “Dead to Me” actor and Sigler, who also has MS, launched “MeSsy” in March. The podcast explores “the curveballs that life can throw,” including health-related issues.

Last year, Applegate spoke out against an online commenter who claimed that the changes to her appearance were the work of a “bad plastic surgeon,” not MS.

“Of course I told her that it wasn’t nice. This was her reply,” Applegate wrote on X, formerly Twitter, at the time, alongside a screenshot of the woman’s remarks. “What is wrong with people? By the way, I laughed.”

Listen to the May 14 episode of “MeSsy” below. 

If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, call or text 988 or chat for support.