Tracey Gold’s Battle With Anorexia
Tracey Gold has fought a very public battle with anorexia, an eating disorder that results in excessive weight loss and can even lead to death. However, she successfully overcame the disease despite many obstacles and almost losing her life. One of the stars from the show, “Growing Pains,” a popular sitcom from the 80s, Gold openly admits that her obsession with eating had nothing to do with food. The public stress of the show added to her performance issues. One episode featured her television father offering her food and then laughing about her weight, which at the time was 135 pounds on her 5 foot, 3 inch frame. After the taping of the episode, Gold called her producers to beg them not to air the show. However, they ignored her plea and aired the show despite her protests. She found a doctor who put her on a diet. But she couldn’t stop losing the weight, so her producers demanded that she take a break from the show to get the help she needed.
Gold frankly admitted that her family was close, and her career was going well. One of her main struggles was that she wanted to please others and make them happy. As the oldest of five sisters, she felt the pressure of performance, both on and off the set. She struggled to move her focus away from food and toward working on relationships. As her disease progressed, she counted and tracked calories of almost every single food. She struggled with sleeping and had difficulty concentrating. She became very frail and could not keep warm. At the same time, her weakness made others focus on her and care for her. When she did her first interview regarding the disease, she wore layers and layers of clothing to add the illusion of weight to her overly thin body. She did not know how to laugh or have fun. She became deathly afraid of eating any oil or butter and drank tea and diet soda to stave off hunger paints. For dinner each night, she consumed only a small amount of dry pasta and overcooked chicken.
Gold began dating a man who would eventually become her husband. She baked him a birthday cake but refused to take even one taste of it. However, she talked constantly about food. She was moody. Although she attended therapy three times a week, it didn’t work.
She took a vacation in Hawaii with her family and boyfriend. When she came home, she eventually built her weight back up to 93 pounds, but panicked and dropped back down to 83 pounds. She began to lose her will to fight, which scared her. She came to a point where she finally saw herself skinny, dying and looking like a skeleton. Fear sparked a motivation within her to gain the weight she needed to survive, and she determined to reach her goal weight of 100 pounds. She began taking anti-depressants and gained weight. This helped with her confidence and led to emotional improvement as well.
Gold admits that her stardom added to anxiety and insecurity. She used anorexia as a control mechanism, but as she gained confidence, she was able to overcome her addiction. She now serves as a role model for many.