Demi Lovato Reflects on Eating Disorder, Being "Overworked" During Disney Years

Demi Lovato attends the Teen Vogue Summit 2019 - Getty-H 2019
Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Teen Vogue

Lovato reunited with castmembers from her former Disney Channel original series 'Sonny With a Chance' where she recalled struggling with an eating disorder: "I was underweight and freezing."

Demi Lovato took a trip down Disney memory lane as she reunited with castmembers from her former Disney Channel original series Sonny With a Chance. 

Joining the show's former stars Tiffany Thornton, Allisyn Ashley Arm, Doug Brochu, Sterling Knight, Audrey Whitby, Matthew Scott Montgomery, Shayne Topp and Damien Haas, Lovato opened up about feeling "overworked" early in her career.

Reflecting on her time on set, Lovato admitted that, at the time, she was suffering from an eating disorder and when she was in her Sonny With a Chance dressing room she would always be "covered in a blanket" despite the temperature inside being set to over 98 degrees.

"I would have people over for meetings on my lunch breaks, because that's how much I worked," she recalled. "People would come in and I'd be covered in a blanket on the couch and people would say, 'Why is it 80 degrees in here?' I would be like, 'Because I'm freezing.' They would be like, 'Oh, my God, what's wrong with you?'"

"I had an eating disorder and I was underweight and freezing," she recalled. Lovato also admitted that she "wasn't sleeping" and felt angry over her grueling work schedule at the time. "I was so miserable and angry, too, because I felt like I was being overworked," she said. 

Lovato left after Sonny With a Chance's second season in 2011 to enter a treatment facility when she was 19 years old. The show continued on the network as a spinoff titled So Random, with the original show's cast, guest stars and musical acts. The singer praised the cast for carrying on without her and delivering such a great show. 

"When I left, you don't expect your show to go on without you, but it did. But I couldn't have been happier for everybody," she said. "I just wasn't in a period of time when I was ready to be on camera again. I could not go back into that environment, and there were other things that factored into it."

Lovato praised her former co-star Thornton for being an inspiration to her when she entered treatment. "When I went away to treatment for the first time, you were my biggest inspiration coming out of it because you dealt with all of those pressures of being a woman on TV," she told Thornton. 

"I probably was happier in my head with whatever I looked like at the time. But I'm so much happier now with the mentality that you have. I look back and it and I'm like, 'Man, it's a shame that we wasted any energy on what we wore on set.'"

Lovato later expressed her thoughts on those who choose to step away from the spotlight to live a healthier and happier life, something she has considered doing. 

"When you start off in the industry as a 7-year-old, 8-year-old, you kind of value your self-worth with your success," she explained. "I have moments all the time where I'm like, 'Do I want to continue this? Or do I want to pull a Tiffany [Thornton] and move to Texas, have a family and have a farm?'"

Lovato also admitted that she has a different perspective now about life and her body, something she noticed was evident when guest starring on NBC's Will & Grace earlier this year. 

"I went to Will & Grace this season, and I literally spent 10 minutes in the wardrobe room. Now, I'm like, this doesn't matter. What I'm wearing does not matter," she said. 

Though Sonny With a Chance was a series that arrived amid Lovato's rise to Disney fame — the show followed her film Camp Rock, in which she starred alongside the Jonas Brothers — the singer admitted she wouldn't want to revisit it. 

"I love all of you guys so much, but I went through so much during that show that I would rather just start a whole new project with all of you," Lovato told the group. "I had the best time with you guys and when I think about the show, I miss you guys. And I miss spending time with you and joking and going to Kitchen 24 on our lunch breaks." 

She went on to say that should the cast do anything, it should be "a whole new thing."

Before signing off on the virtual reunion, Lovato shared advice to child actors who are starting in the industry.

"I would just say, speak up for your needs, always tell the people around you how you feel. If you're tired, tell them you're tired. If you're sick, be honest about being sick and not feeling good. Just speak up for yourself."

Despite enduring trials and tribulations, Lovato still managed to make light of her past. When Arm asked what everyone has been up to all these years later, Lovato quipped, "I went to rehab! Several times!" 

Watch the full chat below.