Nov. 3, 2010 — -- 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?"