Katie Couric Suffered from Bulimia in '80s: 'When Karen Carpenter Died, It Shook Me to the Core'

In her new memoir Going There, the former Today anchor talks candidly about the pressure to diet and be thin

katie couric and karen carpenter
Katie Couric and Karen Carpenter. Photo: Shutterstock; Getty

Katie Couric hasn't gotten on a scale at home in five years.

"When I go to the doctor, I weigh myself backwards — I look out," says the former Today anchor in this week's cover story. "Sometimes I flat-out refuse. I don't want it to ruin my day."

Although she no longer obsesses about her weight, Couric struggled with bulimia for seven or eight years, starting when she was a teenager — which she details in her new memoir Going There.

"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," says Couric, 64. "There was so much pressure on women, and dieting was so much a part of the culture."

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"Like so many women of our generation, I aspired to be thin and lanky and all the things I'm not," says Couric with a laugh. "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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She even recalls seeing her older sisters "subsist" on cottage cheese. "I remember after college I said, 'I've lost 10 lbs.,' and my sister said, 'Keep going!' "

"We all wanted to achieve and do well in school and go to good colleges," Couric adds. "And so I think 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."

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Her bulimia ended when she realized how bad it was for her health and she saw the effects of disordered eating on other women. "I really just started to understand how dangerous it was," says Couric. "When Karen Carpenter died [of heart failure caused by years of anorexia] in 1983, it shook me to the core."

When she had her own daughters Carrie, 25, and Ellie, 30, with husband Jay Monahan, who died of colon cancer at 42, it became important to her to help them feel good about their bodies.

RELATED VIDEO: Katie Couric Shows Off Mother of the Bride Dress She Wore to Daughter Ellie's Wedding: 'It Has Pockets!'

"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."

Overall she feels like she has a much healthier relationship with food, says Couric, who is married to John Molner, 58.

"Food still plays a slightly outsized role in my consciousness, but not nearly as much as it did," Couric says, adding she has a thing for "Tate's chocolate chip cookies."

She describes the memoir as "a gift"to her daughters and hopes it will "impart some wisdom from the experience I've gained."

Going There hits bookstores on Oct. 26.

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