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Portia de Rossi on Her Secret Eating Disorder -- and What Saved Her Life (VIDEO)

by Oliver Miller, posted Nov 2nd 2010 12:06AM
Portia de Rossi on Her Secret Eating Disorder -- and What Saved Her LifePortia de Rossi once weighed 82 pounds. The actress existed on a 300 calorie-a-day diet: family members were afraid she would die. Eventually, she collapsed while on a film set -- as a result of her diet, her internal organs were failing. She was only 25 years old.

The actress began dieting as a 12-year-old. She was a child model; an agent told Portia her skinny frame was too large. As a result, De Rossi became anorexic and bulimic. It took her more than a decade to recover.

On 'Oprah' (weekdays, syndicated), Portia revealed her eating disorder -- and discussed what saved her life. De Rossi was saved by a strong female presence ... but it wasn't her wife Ellen DeGeneres. No, Portia credits her survival to the day when she "found love ... with a horse."

While on the show, Portia toured the ranch she shares with wife DeGeneres, pausing to hug her horse "Mai." De Rossi got Mai in 2001 -- at the height of her eating disorder. The actress said Mai helped put her in touch with nature, ending the cycle of counting calories. By focusing on something outside of herself, Portia was able to quit dieting; she started eating what she wanted. Today, she uses outdoor activities (like horseback riding) to stay in shape.

Naturally, de Rossi gives Ellen credit for helping with her illness as well. Still, she doesn't underestimate the power of a good horse. "This horse saved my life," the actress said. According to Oprah Winfrey, the affection seemed mutual. As the host watched Portia rub Mai's nose, she said this: "Look at her ... she's like, 'I love you too.'"

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