03/10/2006 AT 05:00 PM EST
Eating disorders are commonly thought to be a female problem, but Dennis Quaid speaks out to dispel that myth in a new interview with Best Life magazine.
The 51-year-old actor says he battled anorexia in the mid-1990s, around the time he shed 40 lbs. for the role of Doc Holliday in the film Wyatt Earp, the New York Post reports.
In the period the film portrays, Holliday was dying of tuberculosis, and Quaid lost the weight to capture the gaunt look of a man near death.
"My arms were so skinny that I couldn't pull myself out of a pool," Quaid admits, describing what he suffered from as "manorexia." "I wasn't bulimic, but I could understand what people go through with that."
But, like other people who suffer from the disease, he had an entirely different image of himself.
"I'd look in the mirror and still see a 180-lb. guy, even though I was 138 pounds," he says.
Today, Quaid appears trim but fit, and far cry from the dangerously low weight of the past. Even though the weight loss for the film was temporary, Quaid says the mentality stuck with him.
"For many years, I was obsessed about what I was eating, how many calories it had, and how much exercise I'd have to do," he tells the magazine.
Quaid also opens up about his split from ex-wife Meg Ryan, who recently told Oprah that their union was "unhealthy." The actor chalks it up to the challenges of career and having to spend time away from each other.
"There was a lot of time spent apart," he says. "Communication got tough. It was lonely and difficult. It was like we were single without the benefits of being single. And I think everybody knows what happened in the end, but that was just a symptom of other things."