Since joining The Real Housewives of New Jersey in Season 9, we have got to see fan favorite Jackie Goldschneider go toe to toe with fellow Housewives, and displaying a fearlessness about who she was going up against. What many didn’t realize is that behind the scenes, Jackie was in the throes of an eating disorder that was consuming her on and off-camera life. In her captivating new book The Weight of Beautiful, Jackie details her life and weaves in not just how she lived with an eating disorder daily, but how it started to take over her entire life.
I sat down to chat with Jackie about being so forthcoming in her new memoir, how being a reality show star made her eating disorder that much more difficult, and why having her husband Evan by her side through it all has made the journey that much easier.
Michael Cook: Your new book The Weight of Beautiful is extremely relatable to so many people. Was it difficult for you to go through and relive some of the more troubling aspects of your eating disorder?
Jackie Goldschneider: No, it actually wasn’t because these things never left my head. Everything that I wrote about was very present. I always thought about them and what a shame it was that I was living like this for so long and it was really great to get them out of my head and to do something with them instead of just letting them torture me. What was hard was moving past that and thinking about what implications those situations had and coming to terms with the fact that I destroyed so many celebrations and the quality of life was not good. I always thought about the situations, but coming to terms with and exploring how it hurt the people around me and how it hurt people I love, those were the difficult parts.
MC: When the public started to get to know you as a cast member on "The Real Housewives of New Jersey", your children were fairly young and are now growing up right before our eyes. Was it a sobering reality to realize that your children eventually might read about this and an explanation was very clearly going to be needed?
JG: Yes, and the damage was done before this book started to come into existence. What my children saw me do and the behaviors that they saw me model were so destructive that there is really nothing more that I could have done. I think that this book and them seeing me recover and seeing my healthy relationship with food and my body image now, even though it’s hard to know the things that I did to myself, I think it is going to be incredibly helpful to them. Not only understanding what I went through, but knowing how dangerous my behaviors were. If anything, what they will get is that it was so destructive, dangerous and horrible in my life, that they will want to not even go near something like that.
MC: You spoke at length in the book about the way people spoke to you about food and your corresponding responses, specifically how your husband Evan would speak to you about it and your sometimes over-inflated responses. Have you broken that cycle with your own children?
JG: Now, after two years of intense therapy and work with a dietician in recovery, I have a very, very healthy relationship with food. I know that there is moderation in everything. I am still not that confident the way that I talk to my children about it because I don’t want to do any more damage. Like when they’re eating a dessert, I’m worried to tell them to stop. I don’t know that I am fully confident in having those conversations. I just try to model really healthy behaviors. I do get worried talking to other people about their food intake. Instead, I try to just say “everything in moderation” and I encourage them to be physical outside. I am not the best at talking to my kids about it so I try to just really show them that I eat everything now and I don’t over-exercise. I don’t get triggered by watching other people eat. What other people eat now, what other people think of what I’m eating, or what my body looks like, none of that matters to me anymore.
MC: It’s a very hard road to get to a place where you don’t care about the constant judgement about physical aesthetic. Sometimes with age, comes that comfort and confidence that we all wish you could have had when you were younger.
JG: Eating disorders can be so hard that even with age, unless you commit to getting healthy with therapy and recovery, age doesn’t do it for you. You just get so lost in all of this stuff. It’s really hard, even without being in the public eye, society just has so many things for people about their body; it confuses being thin with being healthy. It’s interesting the dichotomy for me in my line of work, clearly I have gained weight and I am not in the danger stone, but I am not “average”-as I was gaining weight, a lot people in my line of work were losing weight with diet drugs. It was really interesting to have to recover in that environment, it made it a little bit more difficult for me. There is a lot of messaging out there even day that thin is better, what your body looks like dictates how healthy you are and how beautiful and attractive you are, it’s really sad. I strongly feel like that until you get right with yourself and love yourself, irrespective of what other people think of your physical appearance, you are not able to avoid all of that.
MC: You were very open about your co-stars on The Real Housewives of New Jersey broaching the subject of your eating disorder. It’s commonplace that if you have a secret on reality television, it is going to come out eventually. Did a part of you want your issues with food to come out in some way?
JG: No, I did not want it to come out. When I signed onto the show, I was still very much in the grips of. Until I decided to recover, I was still very much in the grips of it. I was really good at it. Once I found out that they don’t leave cameras at your house, I was absolutely confident that I could hide this, no problem. I was good at fooling people and I knew that with the limited time that I would be in front of the cameras that I could fake it and go home and carry on with my restrictive eating habits and patterns. I didn’t really think it would be a problem, and then it was harder than I thought.
I think I covered it up for a while, and then I got called out on my second season. I always knew that in the back of my head that that could happen so I had all my excuses and stories ready to go; I was prepared. That’s one thing about an eating disorder, it grips you so wholeheartedly, controls you so much and that there is such a fear about being found out and forced to stop that you really do make sure that no one is going to stop you. And nothing was going to stop me.
MC: Do you think that being a friend last year on the show helped you during your recovery?
JG: Last year, the friend role was very very tough for me to accept, even though it was the better decision for me. I think myself and the network both felt that it was the best decision for me because I was not healthy yet and was still really struggling when these conversations about casting started in April of 2022. It was definitely the best decision for me, but I didn’t even get the book deal until August. I wasn’t even writing the book during that time. I needed to avoid stress because until late Summer of 2022, I was still in a really weird place with using food to soothe my emotions. I had gained a lot of weight and I was eating normally and out of the “danger zone” but I wasn’t good yet with the connection between stress and restriction. It was definitely not a good idea for me to be full time and put myself in positions where I might be stressed out. This year as a friend, I am loving it. I get to concentrate on my book, I am definitely still in the mix, and there isn’t that stress. I have completely eliminated my connection between emotions and food; I don’t look at food in that way anymore ever. There are lot of changes you have to make. Recovery is not easy, and I used to think that I was too far gone that nothing could help me any more, but you really do have to commit to recovery. You cannot be too far gone for recovery; it is very possible no matter how bad you are, to get to the other side of this.
MC: Having someone that is your partner in all things is absolutely crucial for so many of us. What does it mean for your husband Evan to be standing by you as a co-parent, husband, partner, and biggest cheerleader during your recovery?
JG: It just made everything so much easier. I feel bad that I’ve spoiled all of these happy occasions with him, I feel like I need to redo everything. I always knew that if the day came that i wanted to recover, I knew that he would be so happy and so eager to do everything and anything that he could. And I think knowing that has made the process so much easier. He has been so amazing, he really has, it is invaluable. That said, even if you are all alone in this, it is still doable. Most of the work that you have to do is on the inside. Evan is just the best; I feel bad for all of the things that I made him and the children stand by and watch. It must be so hard to watch someone that you love slowly killing themselves and not being able to do anything about it because they’re an adult and stubborn when you really think about it.
MC: The evolution of your eating disorder from childhood through adulthood is remarkable to see, but your recovery is inspiring to read about as well. How is your relationship with food now?
JG: I’m really enjoying it. There are foods that i eat, and these are foods that some people have just picked up and just eaten but for me, this is the first time that I have tried it in my life. Sometimes I will love something, and other times I will think I love something and it’ll be just all right. I had a pignoli cookie for the first time in my life a few weeks ago and it was one
of the best things that I have ever had, I can still taste it, it was so good! Trying new things and enjoying them, I am like a child! There is much enjoyment with food right now. One the one hand, I’m sad that I missed all of these times and celebrations; like during my engagement, I was tortured during that, and it was supposed to be happy. That is what the past twenty years have been, happy occasions that were just really tortured. I am so sad that I did that to myself, but I feel like with this book now they get to take on a greater and bigger purpose by showing people who are struggling-and there are so many of us-that you are not alone. If you have somebody in your life that you love that is going through an eating disorder and you don’t really understand it, I am hoping that this takes you inside the thought process and I want you to really go there with me. That is what sometimes it seems dark, I really wanted to
take readers inside my head when I am going through those situations so that you could understand what would make someone not want to eat food or so afraid of eating food.
MC: You are currently filming the latest filming Season 14 of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" and while you can’t say much at all, how is filming going after such a chaotic season as last year?
JG: I am actually really enjoying it this season. I think that the “friend” role suits me perfectly and I think that recovery and therapy allow me to become so much more confident and stronger and really and truly live my best life. I had to do a lot of work to let go of the traumas of my past, they were keeping me sick and in fear. Once I learned to really let go of traumas
of my past that included things that happened in my adult past too. I was able to really move forward that were keeping me sad and scared over the past few years. I am in a much better place this season, I am really enjoying filming this season … it's a great season!
Follow Jackie Goldschneider on Instagram @jackiegoldschneider.
Check out the book here.