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'Duck Dynasty' Star Jessica Robertson Shares Former Struggle with Eating Disorder: 'I Fell Flat On My Face Before Searching for Jesus'

( [email protected] ) Jun 09, 2015 12:54 PM EDT
"Duck Dynasty" star Jessica Robertson, wife of Jep Robertson, recently opened up about her lengthy struggle with an eating disorder, asserting that it was only through the grace of God that she was able to recover.
Jep and Jessica Robertson recently published a book detailing their lives, titled ''The Good, the Bad, and the Grace of God: What Honesty and Pain Taught Us About Faith, Family, and Forgiveness.'' Getty Images

"Duck Dynasty" star Jessica Robertson, wife of Jep Robertson, recently opened up about her lengthy struggle with an eating disorder, asserting that it was only through the grace of God that she was able to recover.

"I was really naive at the time and I was a people pleaser," she said of her teenage years in an exclusive interview with Entertainment Tonight. "If I could have just made a few other decisions when I was younger, I wouldn't have made so many mistakes."

At just 18 years old, the "Duck" wife met and married her first husband--her former youth pastor. However, the young couple's relationship was far from harmonious, and as a result, Jessica began obsessing over her appearance and weight.

"I think a lot of girls struggle with that," she said. "I wouldn't eat anything with fat in it. I would go as far as getting powdered skim milk because it had fat in it."

In the book she and Jep wrote together, The Good, the Bad, and the Grace of God: What Honesty and Pain Taught Us About Faith, Family, and Forgiveness, Jessica further described her spiral into a devastating eating disorder.

"I started drastically cutting back on calories and working out harder and harder," she writes. "I used a calculator to track the calories I ate and sometimes made a meal out of just a few marshmallows or a bowl of low calorie cereal."

Just one year later, Jessica and her husband divorced. She described feeling "unhappy" and "hopeless" following the split, and attempted to fill the void with partying. 

"I reached out to the friends I went to high school with and they were heavily into the college scene and partying and drinking and sleeping around," she continues. "So I started hanging out with them and I fell right into that lifestyle too."

She added, "I fell flat on my face before searching for Jesus."

Although Jessica was given a reputation as a girl of "ill repute" by many in the Christian community due to her former lifestyle, Jep decided to pursue her after meeting her at a church Bible study.

"I knew what had happened to Jessica with the youth pastor wasn't right," he writes. "She'd been taken advantage of, and while she'd gone into a tailspin and made some bad choices, she had given her life to Jesus, and He had given her a brand-new start."

In an earlier interview with Fox News, Jessica recalled how Jep's kindness and Christ-like compassion erased her low self-esteem.

"One of the first things I noticed was how sweet he is and how kind he is to others ... I saw so much kindness, gentleness and self-control, all these great characteristics that you want in someone," she said.

Jessica also found strength through the Robertson family, who welcomed her with open arms: "They welcomed me in their home and they were so forgiving of anything I did in my past as a young girl," she recalled. 

Today, Jep and Jessica displays God's goodness through their loving family to millions of "Duck Dynasty" viewers. The couple has now been married for 14 years, have four children together: Lily, 11, Merritt, 10, Priscilla, 8, and River, 7.

"I felt like this was an opportunity to share with the world some of the struggles that I went through with that, and coming out through the grace of God," Jessica explained. "You know, coming out the other side, and meeting Jep, and turning my life around."

Duck Dynasty will return this month with a one-hour special about the show's Las Vegas musical special airing June 17 and the new season kicking off June 24.