Katharine McPhee Says "Biggest Challenge" of Pregnancy Was Fear of Eating Disorder "Relapse"

Katharine McPhee shared that the most difficult part of her pregnancy was her fear of experiencing a "relapse" with her eating order, for which she sought treatment in 2005.

By Lindsay Weinberg Mar 02, 2021 9:46 PMTags
Watch: Katharine McPhee Gives Birth to Baby No. 1!

Katharine McPhee got candid about how her recent pregnancy made her worry she was experiencing a "relapse" with her eating disorder. 

The Smash alum, who just gave birth to her first child with husband David Foster, revealed that the "biggest challenge" during her maternity journey was facing "body-issue stuff" as her baby bump grew. 

On Dr. Berlin's Informed Pregnancy Podcast on Monday, March 1, McPhee said, "It just suddenly came up in a way that hadn't been present in a long time."

She explained, "I have felt really stable in my life in the last four or five years, and my weight has been sort of like more consistent. But feeling like there was a relapse after getting pregnant was really shocking and upsetting and concerning for me, because I was suddenly so obsessed with food, starting from this first trimester."

The 36 year old continued, "I had such a distortion of the way that I looked. I look back at these pictures and my husband was documenting like every day, because I'd be like, 'Take a picture of me now. Am I showing?' And I look back and I'm like, 'Oh my god, why was I so hard on myself?'"

Katharine McPhee & David Foster: Romance Rewind

McPhee, who gained 40 pounds while pregnant, said she felt "really ravenous" and "very obsessed with food" during her first trimester in particular.


The American Idol breakout clarified that she hadn't "full-blown relapsed," but "it was definitely a feeling like I was overeating. And then I had that stuffed feeling, where I couldn't breathe. And I couldn't figure out if I was just stuffed feeling because there was a new thing in my body that was making me feel stuffed or if I was actually eating too much food. I was eating really fast. And there's just a lot of anxiety."

She added, "But I weathered it and I'm really grateful I'm at the end of it, that I feel this good and that I look in the mirror and I'm like, 'Yeah, my legs, my thighs, my arms are a little bit thicker, but I'm OK with it.'"

According to ABC News, McPhee opened up about her experience with disordered eating in 2006 during an interview with psychiatrist Keith Ablow and said her bulimia "was really getting out of control" when she auditioned for American Idol in 2005. She entered an intensive treatment program in October of that year.

In her new podcast interview, which was recorded before she gave birth in February, McPhee reflected on her "bad pattern of bulimia when I was like 16, 17 years old, which I've been candid about... I struggled with it on [and] off for quite a few years." 

She said she later went into treatment so that "I could like really just put that to rest," noting, "It was amazing and it really changed my life and I'm really grateful for it."


Flash forward 15 years and McPhee shared that, during her pregnancy, she reached out to the same psychiatrist that treated her during the program. He explained it's common for women that have struggled with eating disorders in the past to have "almost a relapse, in some sense," when they enter pregnancy, as she recounted.

"And it made me feel so much better that I wasn't alone in that headspace," the Scorpion star said.

She believes part of the reason she faced new anxieties was because she returned to set to film the Netflix show Country Comfort, after production was paused during the coronavirus pandemic. McPhee added"But yeah, that was probably and has been the hardest part of pregnancy for me, was just feeling like I was relapsing in some capacity with my food issues."

The new mom went on to speak about why she was looking forward to co-parenting with Foster, 71. "It'll be David's first son, which is really cool. It's something we get to share together that he'd never experienced because he has all girls," she said. (Foster welcomed daughters Erin Foster, Amy FosterSara FosterAllison Jones Foster and Jordan Foster with previous partners).

Joyce Park / @joyceparkphoto

While she was pregnant, McPhee tried to keep it real on social media and show how her life perhaps isn't as luxe as it seems. In February, the singer poked fun at a series of photos of herself and joked it was "instagram vs reality," sharing glamorous maternity shots next to more rugged paparazzi photos. 

On Feb. 24, news broke that the star had welcomed her first child, mere hours after she revealed during the Women on Top podcast that she was expecting a baby boy

"Now that I am having a boy," she said at the time, "there are different things I need to worry about to teach him, versus the things I would be thinking about with a girl.... I think men have different issues and different things to worry about."

If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline at 1-800-931-2237.