Food critic's journey from "baby bulimic" to reviewer

Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:14am EDT
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Frank Bruni's life-long struggle with food is common story for millions of Americans, but his tale of conquering his eating problem and becoming a top U.S. restaurant critic is not.

The once "baby bulimic" chronicles his battle with food and body image in his memoir, "Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater," which is released by Penguin Press on Thursday.

"It's a story more dramatic and turbulent than the average person and it ends in a place where I dedicate my life to food," said the 44-year-old journalist who became the chief restaurant critic at The New York Times more than five years ago.

Bruni detailed his eating binges and excessive use of laxatives and drugs to shed unwanted pounds. He had a brief bout with bulimia in college when he induced self-vomiting.

With this myriad of behaviors, plus extreme diets, Bruni's weight eventually grew to 268 pounds (122 kilograms) and his waist size swelled to 42 inches.

"We all watched his weight balloon and go down. We watched him be hysterical over it," said writer Elinor Burkett, Bruni's friend of more than 20 years.

Compounding his anxiety about his weight was the fear of having an imperfect body as a gay man.

"My anxiety not having that (perfect) body or not able to have that body easily due to my appetite fed to my binging and purging," Bruni told Reuters.   Continued...