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LAST UPDATE: Tuesday February 10, 2015 01:10PM EST
- December 10, 2007
- Vol. 68
- No. 24
She Fought Anorexia
Now She's Rachael Ray's Cooking Buddy
At 19, Thomas says, she developed a pathological fear of getting fat—and eating any fat. "I ate a small portion of fat-free cottage cheese and pineapple tidbits maybe once a day, after a two-hour workout," she says. Friends and family noticed her dramatic weight loss and urged counseling. A year and a half of therapy helped her "work through self-esteem issues." She eventually returned to her normal weight and rediscovered a passion for cooking. "It's funny what a sense of humor God has," she says. "I love food!"
One of five finalists selected from thousands of video applications for "So You Think You Can Cook?!" "Jenn got more sure of herself as [we] went along," says Ray. "Cooking is empowering." Thomas' winnings include culinary boot camp and a spot on Ray's show Dec. 5. The real prize, though, will last longer. "I've never been 100 percent confident," says Thomas, "but I learned I can handle myself."
For Thomas' recipe for lasagna, go to PEOPLE.COM/JENNRECIPE
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