Michelle Duggar Reveals Her Battle With Bulimia

By McCarton Ackerman 03/03/14

The matriarch of TLC's popular reality series '19 Kids and Counting' opened up about an early battle with the disease and how her relationship with Jim Bob helped overcome her disorder.

Photo via

Michelle Duggar is best known for her brood of 19 children and TLC reality show 19 Kids and Counting, but she's now making headlines for revealing her battle with bulimia during her teenage years. In the latest family memoir Growing Up Duggar: It's All About Relationships, she admitted to feeling pressure to stay slim as a child from competing in cheerleading and gymnastics.

"Genetically, I could put on weight easily, but with my activities...it was important for me not to,” she told People magazine. “I would look around and compare myself to my friends, saying ‘Oh my, she’s so small,’ or ‘She has such skinny legs.’”

This ultimately led to her eating disorder that carried on for nearly three years. She would make herself throw up whenever she felt she had consumed too many calories and did so on a nearly daily basis.  It was only when she met Jim Bob at the age of 16 that she knew it was time to break free of her eating disorder.

“The freedom came when I talked about it,” she said. “I met Jim Bob and he and I were in a dating relationship and I loved this guy and I wanted to marry him,” said Michelle. “You can’t keep secrets from the man you want to share your life with. I shared this struggle with him and he said he would help me and keep me accountable.”

The pair then began going on sugar fasts together whenever she felt the need to purge. Although she admits it took her years to fully get over those urges, she eventually moved past her eating disorder and now considers herself to be fully recovered more than 30 years later. “That solid accountability with another human being, a deep love and strong focus was where I found my freedom,” said Michelle. “If my sharing this is going to help another young lady, then I want to share it.”

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

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.