- Associated Press - Monday, September 24, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) - Viewers of Katie Couric’s talk show were doubtless surprised on Monday when, during the discussion of eating disorders, Couric disclosed that she had had her own struggles with that cruel, sometimes deadly condition.

“I wrestled with bulimia all through college and for two years after that,” she said, describing the guilt she felt at eating a single cookie or chewing a stick of gum that wasn’t sugar-free.

But the bulk of the show was devoted to her guests, who included experts on the subject as well as its sufferers, notably singer and new “X Factor” judge Demi Lovato.

During the hour, Couric said little more about her experience, which she had never before made public.

“I kind of hesitated to even bring it up,” she told The Associated Press after the taping. “But I felt that if I expect people on my show to be honest, then, when relevant, I owe it to people watching to be honest myself.

“I wanted to focus on my guests,” she said, “while acknowledging one of the reasons this issue is so important to me: I went through it.”

It’s all part of a balance Couric is striving for on her new syndicated daytime show, “Katie,” between sharing her experiences and turning her show into a personal confessional.

But in an exclusive interview with the AP, Couric, 55, shared details about the illness that first plagued her as a senior at Yorktown High School in Arlington, Va.

It began, she said, when she learned she had been turned down by the college she most wanted to attend.

Couric was a likely candidate for an eating disorder.

“Like a lot of young women, I was struggling with my body image,” she said, “and feeling like I wasn’t good enough or attractive enough or thin enough.”

She termed her figure at the time as “curvy,” and not the cultural ideal, which she identified as “five-foot-eight and weighing 115 pounds. It can be so difficult to embrace the body that you have if it doesn’t fit with the ideal. Women get praised for being super-thin, so you keep striving to be that way.”

She said her disorder “ebbed and flowed” through the years.

“Some periods were worse than others, when I was binging and purging a lot,” she said. “I’d have a piece of gum that wasn’t sugarless and then say, `Oh! I’ve been bad,’ and then feel so terrible that I would eat and throw up. It was awful.

“But what I’m describing is something so many people have gone through or are going through,” she noted, “and it’s so damaging, both psychically and physically.”

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