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Jeannie Mai Opens Up About Her Past Eating Disorder: ‘I Was Low-Key Abusing Myself’

Dana Rose Falcone for People,

Before Jeannie Mai chose to healthfully gain 20 lbs. last year, she struggled with disordered eating.

“I was low-key abusing myself,” says The Real co-anchor on Thursday’s debut episode of her web series on Kin Network, Hello Hunnay. “The idea of being skinny became something that was most appealing to me. Even if you watch The Real, from season 1 to season 4, I was always 100 lbs. I started to really work hard to stay petite and to not gain weight and to stay sample size.”

Mai, 40, gets candid about how she felt compelled to control her eating habits to maintain her desired weight.

Mai in L.A. in November.

“I realized that I had an eating disorder in which I controlled myself to a point that I would not let myself enjoy what I wanted to eat or eat what I needed to eat, all to stay a certain size,” Mai admits, adding that she wouldn’t eat past 7 p.m. and “always ordered food to share.”

It took seeing an unflattering photo of herself to make a change. “I didn’t realize that until I saw a picture of myself where my knees were really pointy and my shoulders were pointy,” Mai says. “I looked weak.”

A friend helped Mai establish a healthy nutrition plan, which included grains, whole foods and healthy fats. The TV personality also started hitting the gym, and has since gained 20 lbs.

“Now I’ve totally got a new perspective on body,” she says. “I love how it feels to go into the gym, crank all my favorite music and literally sweat out all of the things that stress me out.”

She shares some of those personal stressors on the series, including the need to update her Los Angeles home, which she once shared with her ex-husband Freddy Harteis. The two divorced in 2017.

Mai and her ex-husband Harteis in 2012.

“Now that that has changed, this house, it needs an upgrade,” Mai continues. “I hate this couch,” she says, adding that it brings up bad memories. “This is a couch where all the conversations happen in the house. All the fights that have been had in this house.”

Throughout her Kin series, Mai will look to upgrade her home, as well as share her experience with sex and dating post-divorce.

Hello Hunnay is available on Kin Network, which is accessible on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Amazon.