Alexis Bellino is sharing a dark secret.
"I suffered from both anorexia and bulimia," the svelte star of The Real Housewives of Orange County told us yesterday, after breaking her silence in the new issue of Life & Style magazine.
How has she coped with her eating disorder—and why is she going public about her battle now?
"It's time to try to help people with something I overcame," the Christian beauty tells us.
"Someone can be 10 years free of it. Your life can go back to normal. I've been through a lot of therapy over the years."
"I suffered from both anorexia and bulimia," Alexis says, who knows the battle is never really over. "It's something like alcoholism...Suffering from an eating disorder you can't go, 'I'm cured, I'm completely cured,' but you don't have to practice it."
Happily married with three children herself, Alexis said her parents' divorce when she was 12 "was devastating" and triggered the disorder. "My teacher called my mom and said she was worried I wasn't eating."
Still, despite her "control issues," Alexis maintained a normal weight until she turned 18. "In college I would go days without eating, because it does consume you...I would do both, but mostly purging because I would be out with friends. It's not pretty."
Fortunately, Alexis' roommate called her mom for help. "My mom came to visit me, [and said], 'Let's go seek help'—and so we did."
"I do not fear a relapse," Alexis insists after "years of therapy," but knows to seek help when she experiences "a big trauma" like the death of her father.
"You can come through the other side," she says.