Jane Fonda has spoken out about her eating disorder and revealed that she thought she “wouldn’t live past 30” because of it.
On Wednesday’s episode of Alex Cooper’s Call Her Daddy podcast, the 85-year-old opened up about her experience with bulimia in her twenties at the start of her career. Fonda confessed that her eating disorder was so severe that she didn’t think she would survive it.
“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’m 85. I don’t understand.”
She said her eating disorder impacted her life every day.
“I didn’t go out,” the Grace and Frankie star added. “I hardly dated because I was unhappy and I had this eating disorder. And then I was also making movies that I didn’t very much like.”
Fonda told Cooper that her eating disorder seemed so “innocent” and “innocuous” at the beginning, but the condition soon became a “terrible addiction” that took “over [her] life”.
“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 explained. “Your day becomes organised around getting food and then eating it, which requires that you’re by yourself and that no one knows what you’re doing.”
She confessed that as she got “older,” the condition took an even greater “toll” on her life.
“It takes days, and then at least a week, to get over one single binge. And it’s not just the fatigue, you become angry, you become hostile,” she continued. “And then it got to a point in my 40s when I just thought, if I keep on like this, I’m going to die.”
Fonda added that when she hit her forties, she decided to “go cold turkey” and worked on overcoming her eating disorder; at the time, she noted, there weren’t any support groups she could join to discuss her experience.
“I didn’t know anything about that. Nobody talked about it. “I didn’t even know there was a word for it,” she said. “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.”
Fonda first opened up about how she overcame her eating disorder in December 2022 on an episode of the Paramount+ series, The Checkup With Dr David Agus. During the conversation, the Barbarella star shared how she made a change to 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. I couldn’t do it all because the older you get, the more toll it takes on you,” she recalled. “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.”
She added: “I thought my life was worth improving, so I just decided that I would stop. And it was really, really, really, really hard.”
NCFED offers information, resources and counselling for those suffering from eating disorders, as well as their support networks. They can be reached by phone on 845 838 2040 or their website here.