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Katie Couric Just Opened Up About Her Battle With Bulimia

Women's Health logo Women's Health 2021-10-14 Sarah Felbin
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  • With her memoir, Going There, set to hit bookstores in just a few weeks, Katie Couric is reflecting on her struggle with disordered eating.
  • The 64-year-old journalist and author recently opened up about the beauty standards and the household pressures that affected her while growing up in the 1980s.
  • In a new interview, Katie explained that she battled bulimia when she was a teenager for seven or eight years.

With her memoir, Going There, set to hit bookstores in just a few weeks, Katie Couric is reflecting on her struggle with disordered eating. The 64-year-old journalist and author recently opened up about the beauty standards and the household pressures that affected her while growing up in the 1980s.

In a new interview, Katie explained that she battled bulimia when she was a teenager for seven or eight years. The stress of wanting to diet and look thinner was overwhelming: "I think there was an aspect of perfectionism and high achieving that was very much a part of our family, and that contributed to my discontent about my body," she told People. "There was so much pressure on women, and dieting was so much a part of the culture."

Katie Couric, 64, just opened up about her struggle with bulimia in her new memoir. Now, she's helping her daughters learn to love their own bodies. © Rachel Murray - Getty Images Katie Couric, 64, just opened up about her struggle with bulimia in her new memoir. Now, she's helping her daughters learn to love their own bodies.

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder that involves a cycle of binging, or uncontrollably eating large amounts of food, and purging, or trying to get rid of the additional calories using unhealthy methods, according to the Mayo Clinic. Around 4.5 million women in the United States have struggled with bulimia at some point in their lives, per American Addiction Centers.

Bulimia can be treated through therapy and medication, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, and people who are recovering usually work with a nutritionist to establish healthy eating habits.

"Like so many women of our generation, I aspired to be thin and lanky and all the things I 'm not," Katie added. "I think back on my formative years when Twiggy was all the rage and that period of time in the '60s. And there seemed to be an ideal body type, which was extremely thin."

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Katie's older sisters influenced her, too. She said they would "subsist" on cottage cheese: "I remember after college I said, 'I've lost 10 lbs.,' and my sister said, 'Keep going!'" Katie continued.

"We all wanted to achieve and do well in school and go to good colleges," she explained. "That perfectionism contributed to sort of the... I don't wanna say self-loathing, because that's too strong a word, but my discontent about my body."

Katie's wake-up call came when she saw what eating disorders were doing to the women she admired. "I really just started to understand how dangerous it was," she said. "When Karen Carpenter died [of heart failure caused by years of anorexia] in 1983, it shook me to the core."

After researching the long-term effects that binging and purging can have on the body, Katie decided it was time to get help, per Glamour. She eventually found a therapist and began the recovery process.

Forty years later, Katie has come a long way. "Food still plays a slightly outsized role in my consciousness, but not nearly as much as it did," she said. (She added that she's a sucker for "Tate's chocolate chip cookies.")

A mom to two daughters, Elinor and Caroline, Katie said that she knew it was important to model self-esteem and body acceptance for her girls. "I do the best I can. I think probably some of my own neuroses were channeled to them, but I try to emphasize healthy eating and taking care of yourself," she explained.

Now, Katie prioritizes her mental health over her weight. "When I go to the doctor, I weigh myself backwards—I look out," she told People. "Sometimes I flat-out refuse. I don't want it to ruin my day."

Katie says her upcoming memoir is a "gift" to her daughters, adding that she hopes it will "impart some wisdom from the experience I've gained." Going There hits shelves on Oct. 26.

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