UNHEALTHY IMAGE: Actress shares struggle with eating disorder - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

UNHEALTHY IMAGE: Actress shares struggle with eating disorder

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) - Every woman at one time or another has worried about how much they weigh.

For some, an obsession with how they look can turn into an unhealthy image about themselves.

Health experts estimate up to 10-million women suffer from anorexia or bulimia.

"Every woman at some point suffers body image issues," said Tracey Gold, actress.

Even though Tracey starred on one of the most popular TV shows of the 80's and 90's "Growing Pains" she's like every woman.

This household name at one time felt isolated and alone.

"I thought it was awful going through it. In the limited media there was back then. Now everything is so much bigger and much more public", said Tracey.

Tracey's private battle with an eating disorder eventually made headlines. A struggle that started at the age of 12 when she hit a growth spurt.

"I just wanted to stay a little girl and stay home with my parents", said Tracey.

Tracey now shares her story to help others. A real-life story where as a pre-teen she quickly recovered after family and doctors intervened.

"You're not alone in this. In this fight in what I think the media and society put on us", said Tracey.

But, when Tracey gained weight as a young woman producers at "Growing Pains" told her to drop the pounds.

"I had eating days and non-eating days", said Tracey.

Tracey's obsession turned into a potentially life-threatening condition.

"It's like you go down so far and it hit a point where it's really hard to turn back. And, if you can nip it in the bud right away you can really avoid going down that road."

Tracey's health deteriorated so much, her bosses told her to leave and recover she couldn't continue the job she loved.

"The first time you see a signal a sign, a restriction be on top of it. And go to an eating disorder specialist", said Tracey.

Counselor Jessica Dominowski said, "Remember there's not one person exempt from it."

Dominowski with Mercy Business Health Services knows the medical side of things. She says unfortunately girls these days face even more pressure to be thin.

"I think it's starting early as young as six, seven, eight years old. Where they're starting to get that message very young, how we look, how people will like us based on how we look", said Dominowski

Having an eating disorder can be more than worrying about a number on the scale.

It can be a way for a young person to control their lives as they age or experience stress.

"All your thoughts are focused around food. Not eating the fear of gaining weight just this repetitive. It's hard to concentrate on any other things", said Dominowski.

"There's denial around it. It's that this is normal this is what I do. Everything's fine and you just live in this very trapped world", said Dominowski.

Tracey is no longer trapped by anorexia. She still acts, serves as an eating-disorder advocate, but is most proud of the role she plays in the lives of her four sons.

"The fat word in our house is not allowed it is not used. It's the other F word", said Tracey.

Tracy's mom also suffered from an eating disorder and that increases the risk.

It's important to get help right away because people who suffer from eating disorders have a higher rate of suicide and can do major damage to their bodies.

If you know someone who needs help have them contact their doctor.

But, if someone need inpatient care that's a bit trickier because there isn't an inpatient facility in Sioux City.

That's because insurance doesn't usually cover it.

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