Alexa PenaVega Opens Up About Bulimia Recovery In Instagram Post

By McCarton Ackerman 03/21/16

The Spy Kids actress decided to continue the conversation about her eating disorder recovery after receiving criticism about her gluten-free diet. 

Alexa PenaVega Opens Up About Bulimia Recovery In Instagram Post
Photo via Shutterstock/Jaguar PS

Alexa PenaVega first went public about her six-year battle with bulimia during last season’s Dancing with the Stars, but the actress is continuing to talk about her recovery in the hopes of helping others.

After receiving criticism from some of her Instagram followers last week for posting photos that advocate her gluten-free diet, the 27-year-old once again spoke about her past battle with bulimia. PenaVega credited her faith and the help of professionals who worked with her to get back to a healthy weight.

"I had so many insecurities about my body! Since overcoming that obstacle in my life (By the Grace of God) I had a lot of trouble processing all sorts of foods in my body. I had done a lot of damage and recovery from it all was a PAINFUL process. But 100% worth it," she wrote on Instagram. "My body feels strong. I have energy. I feel like a woman!!" PenaVega went on to explain that she adopted a gluten-free diet because "there are certain foods that still give me some trouble... So for me... It is easier to eliminate those foods so that my body absorbs all the nutrients I can get!"

In her final appearance before being eliminated from Dancing with the Stars, PenaVega said her eating disorder began in childhood after a movie producer told her that she was too fat. Because she didn’t have anybody to open up to about her hidden secret, she felt it was important to go public and put a face to bulimia for those who didn’t have access to one.

"The one thing that I had always wanted was for someone to be real with me about that whole situation," she said last November to People. "You read textbooks and it's just so, well, textbook. 'This is how you get over bulimia.' But it is so much deeper than that. I wish I'd had somebody who could have told me, 'It's scary.' You struggle giving it up. You want to get rid of it but you struggle because, in a strange way, you enjoy it."

PenaVega was praised for her honesty by her dance partner, Mark Ballas. He said that eating disorders are “such a sensitive, tender issue. A lot of people are afraid or get uncomfortable talking about issues like this, but I think that it's good to tackle the topic head on.” And with the actress set to reprise the role of Killjoy in the upcoming film Machete Kills in Space, it appears that she’ll continue to have a public platform to create awareness of eating disorders.

"This is something that I was so afraid to talk about before, but this show has given me so much confidence," said PenaVega after her elimination last November. "I went through a big battle and all I wanted to do was move and inspire people and show them that bulimia is something that you can get over. That's really all I wanted tonight. I couldn't have asked for a better way to end my time in the competition."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.