TODAY   |  May 06, 2013

Mika Brzezinski reveals food addiction struggles

In a new book about America’s obsession with food, the co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” is opening up for the first time about her own struggles with eating disorders. She talks about what inspired the book, “Obsessed: America’s Food Addiction – and My Own.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> this morning on "today's woman" mika brzezinski , she just wrapped up her co-hosting duts across the treat on msnbc's " morning joe " come to talk about

her new book "on else issed: america's food addiction and my own." good morning, good to see you.

>> good to see you.

>> you reveal something very personal about your n struggle with food over the years.

>> i think it's something we don't talk about on the show and as a result i get called the food police. i've been wanting to tell this story for a long time.

>> you write in the book, right out there the beginning how does a person who is not overweight write about her lifelong obsession with overeating without sounding like a narcissistic woe-is-me skinny girl.

>> that's a fair response. i address it in the book and if you read the book you see there's not a lot of difference between me and someone else's struggles with food who may have a different result.

>> tell us about what this struggle has looked like for you. you said you were held hostage by food.

>> it looks like alcoholism, it looks like drug addiction and i go there in the book and look at the growing amount of science behind the addiction to salt, sugar and fat. have you heard those words before lately? there has been a lot of science in books that have come out that are starting to show there may be an actual process to becoming obese that has nothing to do with the lack of discipline, nothing to do with being a slob, nothing to do with the judgments that we put on people who are obe obese, and they have everything to do with being addicted to certain foods that are surrounded, we are surrounded with.

>> this went on for decades for you. you talked about having a cycle of bingeing and purging, even exercise bulimia.

>> everything, and you know, i still struggled, writing this book i fell off the wagon a few times so pretty extreme behavior.

>> what does that mean, falling off the wagon?

>> well, i tell the story what happened when i was writing the book, and actually i write in the book how i think ambien is a truth serum. i used to take it and one night i went downstairs and literally ate one of those large jars of nutella starting with the spoon ending up with it on my arms and my husband is standing there going what is going on but it was that kind of demon coming out in the middle of the night , it was disgusting.

>> these are issues you cared about for a long time and we have more insight as to why. there came a time when you approached one of your best girlfriends, diane, to talk about her issues with weight. that led to this book.

>> we have known each other 15 years, we'd shared everything, talked about her relationships, our jobs. we even had a baby together because she helped me deliver my second child because my husband was out of town. we've shared everything and diane over the course of our relationship had gained 100 pounds and we never talked about it. so we had this incredible conversation where i went there, and i said you know, i'm scared for you. you're fat. i even used the word obese, where she looks completely shocked but she then heard my story and the things that i did to myself, to be this thin or to be much thinner, because we ended up challenging each other. she said you ought to write a book on this. i said you ought to join me and you need to lose 75 pounds by the time this book is written and i'm going to figure out how to gain ten and be okay with it, so she is today 75 pounds lighte i'm ten pounds heavier, sort of okay with it, still working on it, and went from a size two to a size six. we're both healthier.

>> you both look fabulous. the results speak for themselves.

>> yes, but it was an interesting issue, we discovered that even her at her weight and me at mine we did the same things with food. we were drawn to the same things and we got that same brain reaction that science backs up, it's an actual reward when you eat certain foods which points to addiction.

>> if you're interested you can read more, the book is called "obsessed." mika brzezinski always good to have you here.