Christy Carlson Romano Developed an Eating Disorder That Left Her 'Unhappy' and 'Unhealthy'

The former Even Stevens star opened up about her eating disorder and how appreciating her body during pregnancy helped her to recover

Christie Carlson Romano Says She Hasn't Seen Shia LeBeouf In '2 Decades'
Christy Carlson Romano. Photo: Charley Gallay/Getty

Growing up in the spotlight as the star of Disney's hit show Even Stevens, Christy Carlson Romano was "very insecure" about her body, and that body image struggle later developed into an eating disorder.

The actress, 37, talked about her negative self-image and eating disorder in a new video on her YouTube channel, shared Tuesday. Romano said that as a kid she was naturally "lanky, all arms and legs" and was bullied "because I was so skinny."

Though it was just her shape, people on the set of Even Stevens grew concerned that Romano was too thin, she said.

"I'm sure they had the best intentions, but the rumor of me having an eating disorder came back to me … and I was very hurt by it, because I took it as though I was too thin and there was nothing I could do about that. That was just the way I was, I wasn't actively trying to have an eating disorder," she said.

At the time, Romano said, she didn't have an eating disorder — "that kind of came later."

A few years after that incident, Romano was "dropping down to a weight size that I think was super-duper skinny," going to about 105 lbs. on her 5'7" frame.

"I remember drinking a lot and I remember smoking lots of cigarettes and I remember just not eating and waking up at like, later parts of the day and not prioritizing my health in general," she said. "It's just — I look at pictures from that time and I just know how unhappy and how unhappy the lifestyle was for me."

The Kim Possible star continued to struggle with her eating habits and self-image, she said, and at one point dated a man who said it looked like she was "starving." The first major change came when she met her now-husband, Brendan Rooney.

"So sad to say that it took meeting a guy [Rooney] for me to start to feel better," she said. "Like I do not wish that for you. I do not wish for you to not realize your own potential until meeting someone. Like there's nothing stopping you from knowing your power."

Even Stevens
Christy Carlson Romano and Shia LeBeouf on Even Stevens. George Lange/Disney Channel via Getty

But he helped her improve, Romano said, and then she "turned a corner" when she became pregnant with their first child, daughter Isabella, 4.

"I went from like, some of my thinnest — I was probably like 110 [lbs.] — to 165. I gained like 50-60 lbs., and even my doctor told me, hey, maybe you want to slow down on gaining weight, and I was like, 'No! Absolutely not! I have an appetite for the first time in my life,' " she said. "For a long time I lived without an appetite, and that really stinks, because that's kind of a metaphor. You don't have an appetite for life, you don't have an appetite to like, get up and do things."

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Romano said that seeing her pregnant body made her appreciate it for the first time.

"Once I had that weight on my body, which I hadn't had, ever, I was really loving my body. Like I was really loving the way that I felt and looked, and I felt like a woman," she said. "I had curves for the first time and I felt good. I felt like I didn't have to make any excuses for being too thin or anything like that. I felt really good."

Romano has since learned to appreciate her body, she said, and teaches her daughters — along with Isabella, she and Rooney are parents to Sophia, 2 — to do the same.

"I love to talk to them about their bodies now," she said. "And what's so amazing about inclusion and everything that's happening right now is that the bodies that we're seeing in this concept of all bodies are great bodies. I am into that, because my daughters need to know that their bodies are important, and I express to them, 'Your body is perfect, and you are great, and this body — you get one body, so treat it really, really well.' "

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