Times food critic/alum Frank Bruni recalls bouts with bulimia

New York Times food critic Frank Bruni ’86 was slightly plump as a child and struggled with keeping his weight down throughout pre-adolescence, he recalls in a new memoir . He dieted and fasted. Then he discovered competitive swimming during his teens;  this way he could enjoy food and keep the weight off. Sometimes with the help of pale blue amphetamine pills.

When he arrived at Carolina on a four-year Morehead scholarship, Bruni decided to give up swimming, devoting spare time to writing for the Daily Tar Heel. Like many students, he craved extra helpings at the cafeteria. But without swimming to burn up the extra calories, and no more little blue pills, he needed a new plan for controlling his weight.

He thought he found the solution in furtive post-meal visits to a restroom at the rear of the student union convenient to both the cafeteria and the newspaper offices. He was aware of bulimia but concluded at the time that was not really what he was doing when he stuck his fingers at the top of his throat. He was, after all, in control, right? Then his friends called him on it.

Bruni graduated from UNC with a B.A. in English in 1986. His memoir, Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-time Eater, comes out next month. You can read an excerpt in the July 19 Sunday New York Times Magazine.


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