Julie Bowen opens up about teenage eating disorder struggle

Julie Bowen had an eating disorder credit:Bang Showbiz
Julie Bowen had an eating disorder credit:Bang Showbiz

Julie Bowen developed an eating disorder as a "coping mechanism" when she was a teenager.

The former 'Modern Family' star – who has Oliver, 15, and twins John and Gustav, 13, with ex-husband Scott Phillips – always worried about "making mistakes" and being unable to "contain" herself when she was younger, with her feelings leading her to stop eating.

Speaking on 'The Tamron Hall Show', she said: "You know, it's funny because I have three sons, and they're all so different. But I see one of them is very similar to me, and I see him always trying to colour inside the lines and get the A+.

"And I think (as a teen) I interpreted being messy or making mistakes or having an a** or like fat coming out of the top of your jeans [as] a symbol that you couldn't contain yourself. That you were too much, and that to be good meant staying inside the lines — literally and figuratively. Keeping it tight.

"And that's my attitude: tight. And by the way, that is not fun. It's not a fun way to live."

At the time, Julie, now 52, was "struggling" with puberty and "not liking that feeling of changing" but found when she was "really starving", she didn't think about things as much.

She added: "We didn't talk about anything, and it just sort of felt like... dirty. And I realised, when you're really starving, you don't have any feelings. It's kind of amazing. The body goes, 'We don't have time for that.' So I think it was a coping mechanism."

Elsewhere on the show, the actress opened up about the "nastiest" body shaming she experienced after her twins were born.

She said: "I was lucky enough to get a little bit of fame and recognition before everybody had a cell phone in their pocket and a camera all the time.

"I had my twins in 2009, and I was in Hawaii shooting Modern Family. It was less than a year later, and I still had like the baby gunk.

"I was working and breastfeeding, and I jumped in the ocean with my husband at the time wearing a bikini — no one was around — and by the time we got up to the room, there had been paparazzi like in the rocks hidden away, and it was the nastiest. Like, 'What is wrong with her? This is disgusting.' People circling my belly and my boobs and [saying], 'This is nasty.'

"I felt like I had done something wrong. Like somebody took a picture of you in your most private moment. And (the paparazzi) had no idea my body just did something f****** amazing."