Jennette McCurdy has opened up about her past battles with bulimia nervosa and anorexia, which she revealed began at the young age of 11.
During a new interview on Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown podcast this week, the 29-year-old star claimed her late mom suggested that she restrict her diet to delay puberty, specifically to help her land roles as a child star.
‘My mom was the person that introduced me to anorexia, actually,’ the former actress recalled. ‘I had a lump in my breast, which was my boob developing, and I was scared that it was cancer because of my mom’s cancer.’
Getting real: Jennette McCurdy opened up about her past battles with bulimia nervosa and anorexia, which she revealed began at the young age of 11
She continued: ‘I thought, “Well, she got cancer, now I’ve got cancer, I’ve got breast cancer at 11. Like, I’m doomed.”‘
Jennette’s mom Debra, who passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer in 2013, however, explained to Jennette that she didn’t have breast cancer, but that she was ‘just developing boobs.’
After asking her mother how she could ‘not develop boobs,’ Jennette said Debra replied: ‘Well, there’s a thing called calorie restriction.’
So sad: During a new interview on Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown podcast this week, the 29-year-old star claimed her late mom suggested she began restricting her diet to delay puberty, specifically to help her land roles as a child star; seen in 2009
‘Those were her exact words. She did not say the word anorexia,’ Jennette clarified.
A year later, the iCarly alum said she heard the word ‘anorexia’ for the first time when a doctor expressed concern for her ‘rail-thin’ appearance and recent weight loss.
After overhearing her mom defend her, Jennette said she thought: ‘Mom’s looking out for me, Mom wants me to not have breasts so that I don’t have breast cancer, Mom wants me to look young so I can book more roles so I can support the family and do the thing.’
‘My mom was the person that introduced me to anorexia, actually,’ the former actress recalled; seen in the grip of her eating disorder in 2012
Child star: Jennette rose to fame for portraying Sam Puckett on Nickelodeon’s iCarly alongside Miranda Cosgrove and Nathan Kress from 2007-2012
Following the loss of her mom at 21, Jennette said she developed bulimia and began purging five to ten times a day.
‘That same week [of her death] was the first time that I had sex, the first time that I made myself throw up — bulimia, which I then had for a few years — and the first time that I had a drink of alcohol. Those coping mechanisms all kind of hit at once,’ she explained.
Eventually, her sister-in-law intervened one Thanksgiving to urge her to seek professional help.
Her story: Jennette’s eating disorder began at just 11-years-old, and was unintentionally encouraged by her mother, who also struggled with her own eating disorder growing up. She is seen above in an undated image with her late mom
‘I thought that I was this gifted secret-keeper,’ she said. ‘I wasn’t good at that. That was pretty much all I had during that time, was hoping and clinging to the fact that maybe my shame was my own but knowing that, eh, you actually weren’t pulling the wool over anybody’s eyes, that was a bummer.’
Back in 2019, Jennette penned an emotional essay for Huffington Post about how her eating disorder was sadly aided by her mom, who also struggled with the same disorder.
‘Mom had been hospitalized for anorexia on several occasions when she was a teenager and I’m not convinced she ever overcame her disordered eating,’ she wrote.
The pressure: Jennette shared this snap of her younger self on Instagram. She said that, ‘as a child actress working in Hollywood, I quickly learned that remaining physically small for my age meant I had a better chance of booking more roles’
Jennette went on to say: ”When I was growing up, the only dinner I ever saw her eat was a plate of steamed broccoli and cauliflower with a single pinch of garlic salt for flavor.’
She recalled how her mother would monitor her eating and ‘compare her size to other girls.’
By the time she was 14, she landed her big break as Sam Puckett in iCarly. As it grew in popularity, she began to stress even more about her diet, and began overexercising and under eating.
‘I measured my thighs with a measuring tape every night before bed,’ she recalled.
Serious issue: At 14-years-old, she would ‘measure my thighs with a measuring tape every night before bed.’; Jennette pictured (It is not known at what age she was when this photo was taken)
By the time she was 18, she began to binge eat.
Jennette was now a star on a hit show, had landed a record deal, and sadly, was forced to deal with the reality that her mother Debra was dying from cancer, after it returned.
Her binge eating led her to throw up what she ate.
People around her would actually compliment her on her new figure, which aided in her faulty mindset of the harm she was putting on her body.
‘I’d lose weight and go to a wardrobe fitting where the stylist would look at me excitedly, wag a pair of double 0 jeans, and happily singsong, ‘Down a size!’
‘Or I’d get a phone call from my agent, who would say, ‘You’ve never looked better. Keep doing what you’re doing.’
Devastating: Jennette was now a star on a hit show, had landed a record deal, and sadly, was forced to deal with the reality that her mother Debra was dying from cancer, after it returned; seen in 2007
The Long Beach native would eventually see a therapist named Laura, who would accompany her to events to help her avoid trigger sessions.
At one point, Laura let the star know she should visit an ‘inpatient treatment facility in Colorado,’ which cause Jennette to cut ties with her.
‘Over the next year and a half, I continued to purge even as I also began to face various come-to-Jesus moments. My throat frequently bled and I popped blood vessels in my eyes from vomiting so much,’ she recalled.
‘Once I lost a tooth after regurgitated stomach fluids wore down my enamel. Another time I passed out on my friend’s bathroom floor from dehydration. Finally, I decided it was time to seek help again.’
Getting help: The Long Beach native would eventually see a therapist named Laura, who would accompany her to events to help her avoid trigger sessions; pictured in 2008
At 23, the Sam and Cat star received help from an eating disorder specialist named Hank.
‘I had several relapses during my time with Hank and several more even after I finished the program, but Hank warned me about relapses and told me they were totally normal.
‘The important thing was getting back on the recovery program anytime I had a slip so that, as they say in recovery, ‘the slip doesn’t become a slide.’
Long road to recover: At 23, the Sam and Cat star received help from an eating disorder specialist named Hank; pictured in 2017