The uproar over Ginnifer Goodwin's Weight Watchers history is something that Goodwin just doesn't understand. She insists there's a big difference between dieting and eating healthy, and she prefers to focus on the latter.

Ginnifer Goodwin has never tried to keep secret the method behind her svelte figure – but when the Big Love star revealed publicly last month that she's been on Weight Watchers for much of her life, she was taken aback by the uproar.

In fact, the actress, 32 – who doesn't attend Weight Watchers meetings, but is a member of the group online – maintains that she's never been on an actual diet.

"I was so shocked when it was this whole, 'Ginny's been on a diet since she was 9 years old!' I was like 'No!' I've never had body issues, I've never had an eating disorder," she tells PEOPLE. "I've never had to go on a diet and that's because of Weight Watchers."

Goodwin, however, says she was an overweight child, which led her to the program. "I began to identify myself as fat." Goodwin says. "At 9 years old I weighed about 10 lbs. less than what my weight is at 32. I needed to get help."

"I ended up going to my mother crying,"she recalls. "With the counseling of my family doctor, my mother ended up turning to Weight Watchers and their children's program. I went to weekly meetings, got counseling and would exercise with my peers who were my size. It was the first time I saw a proper children's portion size, and it wasn't two burgers, it was one."