clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Mayim Bialik talks about recovering from an eating disorder and the pressures she faces

‘The Big Bang Theory’ alum now starring on ‘Call Me Kat’ says she has been in recovery for anorexia for two years. The pandemic has been linked to a rise in eating disorders.

Mayim Bialik attends The Casting Society of America’s 34th Annual Artios Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in 2019.
Mayim Bialik attends The Casting Society of America’s 34th Annual Artios Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in 2019.
Getty Images

In an episode of her podcast ”Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown,” “The Big Bang Theory” alum, who’s 45, revealed she’s been in recovery for anorexia for two years.

“This is the first time I’ve ever talked about it because people are, like, ‘Well, why are you so overweight?’ Well, because I’m a compulsive overeater in addition to being an anorexic and restricter,” Bialik said, speaking with author and activist Glennon Doyle.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, what’s called “avoidant restrictive food intake disorder” is ”similar to anorexia in that both disorders involve limitations in the amount and / or types of food consumed.”

The group says binge-eating is characterized by episodes of “eating large quantities of food — often very quickly and to the point of discomfort.”

“I eat too much when no one’s looking,” Bialik said.

She said she’s “eating so I don’t have to feel anything.”

Bialik said she was compelled to speak about what she’s going through because of Doyle, the author of ”Untamed: Stop Pleasing, Start Living,” who has been open about her own struggles with bulimia and addiction.

“I only feel inspired because of her to do that,” Bialik told her Jonathan Cohen, her boyfriend and co-host of the podcast. ”I’ve known about my problems for years, and I’ve been in recovery, as it were, for two years.”

In the United States, it’s estimated that 30 million people will be affected by an eating disorder at some point.

There’s a broad spectrum of disordered eating — which refers to abnormal behaviors like calorie-counting or a rigid exercise routine. But there are specific criteria for eating disorders, which are diagnosed mental illnesses.

The big three are anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder.

The pandemic has made things worse for some people. Since March 2020, the National Eating Disorders Association helpline reports a 40% increase in calls versus the year before.

Bialik, now the star of Fox TV’s ”Call Me Kat,” said that someone once called her “brave for being in a movie 30 pounds over my normal weight.”

She said her “short-term 2021 goals” include letting go of society’s unrealistic beauty standards, which are amplified and scrutinized in Hollywood.

“I’m trying to release the pressure of being 15 pounds lighter, which is what I, quote, ‘should be,’ by Hollywood standards,” Bialik said. “I’m trying to release the pressure of caring that I’m wearing the clothes that make me look like those other women, even though I’m not those other women.

“Like, when can I wear all black and not have a stylist be, like, ‘We need you in more color.’ It’s, like: How about if I wear black because I feel the best ,and I like it? And they make a lot of cool clothes in the color black?”

Dealing with disordered eating

  • If you think you or someone you know have warning signs of an eating disorder, get screened.
  • Virtually connect with a community such as a helpline or support group.
  • Tap your support system and schedule a FaceTime or video chat during meal times.
  • Be thoughtful about social media consumption. Unfollow accounts that make you feel anxious. Follow others that focus on self-care.
  • If you or someone you know is struggling with body image or eating concerns, the National Eating Disorders Association’s toll-free helpline is available by phone or text at (800) 931-2237 or by click-to-chat message at nationaleatingdisorders.org/helpline. For 24/7 crisis situations, text “NEDA” to 741-741.

“Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown” is a weekly mental-health podcast on Spotify that was launched in January and combines topics such as anxiety, loneliness, addiction and PTSD with Bialik’s expertise on the brain, nervous system and their connection to emotions. She has a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA.

To read more from USA Today, click here.