Richie says drugs also may have played a role in making her alarmingly skinny

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated August 03, 2007 09:30 AM

(Video courtesy ABC)

It was Nicole Richie, take two, on Friday morning: Labeling her a former “out-of-control party girl,” Diane Sawyer asked how the socialite intends to transform herself into – in Richie’s words – “a very healthy and respectable” mother.

One of Sawyer’s main concerns, the ABC anchor said on Friday’s part two of her Good Morning America interview with Richie (more from the Q&A will air on Friday’s 20/20), was whether the formerly ultra-thin Simple Life star is finally eating – and not endangering the baby she’s carrying.

“Do I eat is kind of an understatement,” said Richie, who is four months pregnant. “I eat all the time, especially now. I’m constantly hungry. I’m eating at least every hour.”

Sounding neither defensive nor particularly alarmed, Richie, 25, said, “Just like any mother, you know, you want to take the best care of yourself, especially while you’re pregnant. And I’m definitely eating healthier now, and I’m really playing by the rules.”

By that, Richie said, “I do not drink caffeine at all, cut out sushi” – and, in response to questions from Sawyer, who had also mentioned Richie’s cocaine and heroin use – “No alcohol … No marijuana … No pills … Nothing … No smoking around me.”

Richie’s boyfriend and father of her child, Good Charlotte rocker Joel Madden, at that point told Sawyer that he had “a tough week” giving up his pack-and-a-half-a-day cigarette habit.

Richie also said, “I’m totally okay” with gaining 40 or 50 lbs. during her pregnancy if “that is what my body needs to do.”

Earlier in the interview, Sawyer had confronted Richie with photos that displayed the socialite’s skeletal frame, and asked if Richie felt any responsibility for the impression such images might make on little girls in regard to body image.

“I’m really sorry for not accepting that earlier,” Richie replied. “It took me a while.” As for what Richie sees when she looks at those photos, she said, “I see a girl that is obviously going through something and is much too skinny.”

Asked point blank if she has an eating disorder, Richie said, “No, I do not have an eating disorder. I’ve never had an eating disorder. Ever. … It’s anxiety. It’s stress. It’s just not being careful.”

Was it drug-related? “I think it possibly could have been,” said Richie.

Richie also acknowledged Sawyer’s observation that the socialite looked close to death, but Richie says she was not.