Katharine McPhee: On Bulimia and Recovery


Last year, after barely losing out to Taylor Hicks for the title of American Idol, Katharine McPhee stated that the reality show saved her life and not for the reasons you might think.

When Katharine received the news she made it to the final twelve girls of the competition, she decided it was time to face the eating disorder of bulimia that was ruining her most valuable attribute - her vocal cords. Bulimics eat excessive amounts of food, often feeling out of control, then, out of disgust and a fear of gaining weight, resort to vomiting or laxatives or other extremes.

After discussing her 5-year bout with bulimia with her parents, Katherine enrolled in an intensive recovery program at Los Angeles's Eating Disorder Center Of California. And intensive it was. The three month long program met 6 days a week for 10-hour days with group and individual therapy. It completely changed her relationship to food, saying:

"I learned that there's no such thing as a bad food. If you look at a doughnut, people think it's a fattening food--why? Because if you eat it you'll get fat? No, you'll get fat if you eat 10 doughnuts."

Her problems began when she was 17 and she attributes her eating disorder to geography - growing up in slender body conscious L.A. had an affect on her.

"Growing up in Los Angeles and spending all those years in dance class, I'd been conscious of body image at a young age, and I went through phases of exercising compulsively and starving myself."

Katharine has a great voice and she faced her bulimia to protect it, as well as her physical and mental health. I have so much respect for her for publicly discussing her eating disorder and recovery process. She knows she is a role model for young girls and she takes it seriously. One ironic fact about her recovery process is that she lost 30 pounds while redefining her relationship to eating. Katharine's story proves you can make it to the other side of an eating disorder and thrive.

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