Portia de Rossi: 'I Would Starve Myself Daily'

PHOTO Actress Portia de Rossi appears on "GMA" to talk about her new book, "Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain."
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Actress Portia de Rossi says her decades-long battle with eating disorders was an "excruciating" experience that drove her to starve herself and at times eat only 300 calories a day.

"That was my diet," de Rossi told Robin Roberts today on "Good Morning America.

"Ever since I was 12 years old, I would starve myself daily and then binge after the job was over. And that was just the diet I returned to every single time I needed to lose weight."

The star's struggle with anorexia and bulimia started when she was modeling at age 12.

"From that age I learned that what I looked like was more important than what I thought, what I did and who I was," de Rossi, 37, said. "I think when your self-esteem is based on how you look, you're always going to be insecure. There's always a fresher face, a thinner girl.

"I had to diet to be professional, to make sure that I kept working," she added.

De Rossi goes into the depths of her illness in her new book, "Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain."

The Australian actress, born Amanda Lee Rogers, rose to fame in 1998 when she joined the cast of the hit TV series "Ally McBeal."

Rolling Stone magazine touted her as "a hot bombshell" and the media were taken by her glamour and sex appeal. But on the inside, de Rossi said, she was miserable. A closeted lesbian, she was afraid of being outed by the press.

"It should have been the best time of my life," de Rossi said. "It's the kind of dream job that actresses pray they get. And yet I was terrified of being exposed as gay.

"That was really the hardest part; all of a sudden being some kind of celebrity and being on a hit TV show. Who I was was completely unacceptable, so I had to create a character of someone I thought that people could accept."

De Rossi was eventually outed by a member of the paparazzi, and she now says she's glad that happened.

"She forced me to come out to my family, she forced me to live a more honest and more open life," de Rossi said. "How can you be angry at someone who makes you more honest and ultimately a lot happier?"

Click the following links to learn more about body image therapy: Montenido Treatment Centers and therapist and author Carolyn Costin.

Portia de Rossi on 'Excruciating' Eating Disorder Battle

While filming "Ally McBeal," "I was constantly looking for external validation," de Rossi told Oprah Winfrey in an interview Monday.

"One friend of mine said to me, 'You look like a normal, healthy woman, and those three words really sent me into shock. Normal? Who wants to be normal? Who wants to be normal weight range? 'Healthy' suggested that I was kind of, like, pudgy. 'Woman' suggested curvy. I wanted to be a skinny, straight up and down girl."

De Rossi hit rock bottom in early 2000 when her weight plummeted to 82 pounds. At that point, she was taking in only 300 calories a day and obsessively working out.

"It was excruciating. It was very hard," she said.

A year later, she reportedly collapsed on the set of the film "Who Is Cletis Tout?" and was taken to a doctor, who found she was suffering from cirrhosis, oesteoperosis and organ failure.

De Rossi married comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres in 2008.

DeGeneres talked to Winfrey about the book as well: "She hated herself," DeGeneres said. "I mean, she absolutely hated herself. I don't know, I look at her and I just think, 'How did you ever – I mean, how did you not know how amazing you were?'

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