Jinger Vuolo (née Duggar) opened up about struggling with her body image and developing an eating disorder as a teen in her new memoir, Becoming Free Indeed, which hit shelves on Tuesday, January 31.

“For years, I thought the best way to please others was to hide my imperfections,” the Counting On alum, 29, wrote, noting that at the age of 14, her “biggest fear” was what people thought of her. “Convinced my body was an embarrassment, I ate very little. I’d go days hardly consuming any calories. My weight dropped, but my body image didn’t improve. It almost never does in those situations because the weight isn’t the problem.”

The best-selling author went on to write that no matter “how thin” she got, she was never “satisfied with the way” she looked. “This obsession with body image was terrible for my physical health and it certainly wasn’t good for me spiritually,” she continued. “It was a downward spiral that could have gotten worse and worse.”  

Jinger then revealed that her struggles were “short-lived, in large part” due to mom Michelle Duggar’s help. “My mom had shared with me what she’s shared with the world: she had struggled with her eating, too, when she was my age. I felt no judgment from her, just love and care,” Jinger wrote, later adding, “Mom gave me the confidence to know I don’t have to avoid food to be pretty.” 

In her honest admission, the mom of two also touched on fasting being “an acceptable spiritual practice” in the Bible, even though “it never commands believers to fast.” Noting that “this was different” than the “struggle” she had with food in her early teens, Jinger wrote, “Yet if I felt convicted about fasting, I would tell myself I couldn’t have food that day. I convinced myself that if I ate, God would not be pleased with me.”  

She explained, “Back then, I was worried about what people thought of me. I avoided food because I wanted to appear thin. My concerns with fasting were because I was worried about what God thought of me. My previous struggles with food didn’t cross my mind when I tried to figure out if I should fast or not, but it did cross my parents’ minds. For that reason, they encouraged me to eat. In fact, my parents directly told me not to fast at that time.” 

Jinger Vuolo
Courtesy of Jinger Duggar/Instagram

Though Jinger commended her parents for helping her through difficult times amid her personal struggles, a source previously told In Touch the former 19 Kids and Counting stars are “bracing themselves” for Becoming Free Indeed

Jim Bob and Michelle aren’t thrilled by Jinger’s book coming out, but they are hoping for the best,” the insider revealed in November 2022. “They’re not sure of all the topics she’ll cover, but they have prayed about it and hope that it’s honest, respectful and doesn’t dredge up too much of their family troubles.”

The source went on to say that the TLC alums “fear the worst” for what Jinger reveals in the book, “especially stories about their faith, raising their large family and especially the dark Josh incident.”

They continued, “It’s no secret that Jim Bob and Michelle would rather all their children keep family matters private. A tell-all book from one of their own isn’t something they ever worried about, until now.”

 If you or someone you know struggles with an eating disorder, visit the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa & Associated Disorders (ANAD) website or call their hotline at (888)-375-7767 to get help.

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