On her new show, Katie, Katie Couric opened up for the first time to Dr. Cynthia Bulik about her past struggle with an eating disorder. She discussed how she wrestled with bulimia nervosa throughout college and two years after graduation. Her body image issues took a toll on her self-esteem, making her feel less attractive and like she needed to lose weight to be considered ‘good enough.’ She says, “I know this rigidity, this feeling that if you eat one thing that’s wrong, you’re full of self-loathing and then you punish yourself, whether it’s one cookie or a stick of gum that isn’t sugarless, that I would sometimes beat myself up for that.” Her frank comments generated considerable attention from the media and from her fans who were grateful for her honesty and courage. Dr. Bulik recalled, “It was so wonderful to have someone as accomplished as Katie talk about her eating disorder history is such a frank and open manner. She was completely matter-of-fact—no shame, no stigma. She helped so many people in ways she might not even imagine. And she is helping us in our mission to destigmatize eating disorders.”
In a web extra, Dr. Bulik and Katie discussed the intricacies involved in both inpatient and outpatient treatment and the importance of renourishment. Dr. Bulik explained that after renourishment, treatment can continue in other directions such as family therapy, couples therapy, or cognitive behavior therapy, which attempts to replace negative, destructive thought patterns with healthier alternatives.
Also on the show was singer/songwriter Demi Lovato. Demi recalled that she starting wondering if her stomach would ever be flat when she was just three years old. Her body image issues continued throughout her younger years, and she began binge eating at the age of eight. She explained that eating disorders run in her family, and she believed traumatic events can bring these predispositions to the surface. Today, Demi has made a conscious decision to conquer her demons. “I can’t do this to my body anymore, I’m going to let my body be what it’s naturally supposed to be,” she told Katie. She encourages young girls who are suffering to get help, as it may save their lives. In a touching moment, Demi turned to the young guest on the show and shared her hope for recovery. Dr. Bulik said that being on stage with live, unscripted, recovery mentorship was a “powerful experience.”
Sandy Crisenberry, another guest on the show, was 52 when she began suffering from anorexia nervosa. Her experience helped to dispel the myth that eating disorders are a teenage girls’ disease. Now recovered, Sandy recounts the physical toll the disease took on her body, making it difficult to walk and even to breathe. Dr. Bulik explained that eating disorders are becoming increasingly common in women and men of all ages, with 13% of women over 50 restricting calories, binging, purging, or exercising excessively.
Each of these women courageously shared her unique experiences and served as living proof that recovery is possible. Dr. Bulik summed up the experience, “…Learning strategies from someone who’s been there, that’s what it’s all about in terms of recovery.”
Learn more about these interviews here:
Watch Dr Bulik and Katie Couric talk behind the scenes here:
By: Nora Luke