London, March 22 (ANI): Kirsten Haglund, who was crowned Miss America in 2008, has admitted that she suffered from anorexia nervosa during her early teens.
She showed early signs of the disease when she was just 12.
Now completely recovered, the 23 year-old credited the pageant for giving her something else to focus on. But she also admitted healing wasn't easy.
Over three years, the 5ft 8in Michigan-born beauty queen, who is one of the youngest recipients of the Miss America title after winning at age 19, lost 30lbs through life-threatening eating habits. It was about half of her original weight.
She had been studying ballet at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet School at the time and hoped to fit in with her fellow dancers.
"I looked at what they were doing and so many of them were throwing away their lunches and not eating. I thought, 'If I can at least be thin, I know I can be successful at ballet'," the Daily Mail quoted her as telling CNN.
The striking blonde survived on a diet of less than 900 calories per day, which is less than half the recommended intake for an average woman. It consisted of coffee, Diet Coke and chewing gum.
"Every once in a while, I'd have vegetables, fruit or a spoonful of peanut butter, Internally, I knew there was something seriously wrong with me, but I didn't know how to stop," she continued.
The disease also affected her social life. Haglund admitted to searching the internet for tricks to help her avoid eating in public. She said she regularly clicked through images of celebrities for 'thinspiration'.
At last her mother forced her into the doctor's office. It took two years of routine nutritionist meetings, psychology and further meetings with an eating disorder specialist to steer the teenager back to health.
Even when she entered her first beauty pageant, the Miss Oakland County pageant in Michigan, her doctors kept a careful eye on the 17 year-old.
Haglund rose above the illness. During the Miss America competition, she even used her struggle as a springboard to discuss how committed she was to help others who may be struggling.
"From hearing other people's recovery stories, I learned how to share my own personal struggles. Those who struggle with substance abuse can get off their drug and never face it again," she stated. (ANI)
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