Lauren Alaina’s mother, Kristy White, appeared on the newest episode of the Got It From My Momma Podcast, hosted by Jennifer Vickery Smith, who is the mother of a fast-rising country singer/songwriter Conner Smith.
During the lengthy sit-down interview, which premiered on Tuesday (Jan. 10), White opened up about a variety of topics, including her famous daughter’s crushing eating disorder and body insecurities that went on for over six years before she was able to take back control of her life.
Alaina’s unhealthy relationship with food began as an adolescent while in health class, according to Self.com. But, that problem spiraled out of control during her teen years when she competed on Season 10 of American Idol and took the runner-up spot alongside winner Scotty McCreery. It was around that time that Alaina discovered a blog that nicknamed her “Miss Piggy.”
“[People] can be really cruel, and I didn’t have tools to deal with that,” Lauren would later tell Entertainment Tonight about the heartbreaking finding, which caused her to turn to losing weight by purging her meals.
Although Alaina tried to hide her eating disorder from the public eye, she wasn’t fooling those closest to her. White caught on pretty quickly after noticing her daughter sticking to a measly and insufficient diet of only water and cucumbers.
“I was like, ‘Lauren, you can’t do this. It’s not healthy,’” White shared, adding that the “Doin’ Fine” singer’s toxic relationship with food only “got worse” after that. “At one point she would eat, and I noticed that she would go to the bathroom. So I started following her….. I said, ‘Lauren, do you have a problem?’ She’s like, ‘No, mom. I promise I don’t have a problem.’ Well, I gathered enough [information]. I was like, ‘She has a problem.’”
White went on to say that she then took matters into her own hands to get her child help. She got in touch with a specialist and scheduled an appointment to get Alaina checked out.
“I wanted to get her out of California,” White said. “And I don’t mean that in a negative way, but I thought, she’s a singer, not a model… Mentally, she’s not healthy anymore because she thinks she’s supposed to look a certain way…. She was so skinny at one point that her face was drawn in.”
“I called her pediatrician, and I told him what was going on with her. I said, ‘I’m going to bring her in for a physical. I need your help. If she knows that I have already talked to you prior, she’s going to be [upset],” White added. “I said, ‘But we have to get her help because [I was] really afraid that she could die.’”
READ: Moms Of Country Stars Share How They Supported Their Kids’ Early Dreams On ‘Got It From My Momma’ Podcast
Luckily, Alaina obliged, but the real wake-up call didn’t come until her doctor notified her that if her bulimia continued, her singing career would suffer. Alaina had polyps (noncancerous growths that can affect the sound and quality of the voice) showing up on her vocal cords, and her bulimia had made them worse.
“The doctor asked me if I had ever had an eating disorder, and I was immediately like, ‘No.’ Of course, because you deny it,” Alaina said, according to Self.com. “My mom pretty much called me out on it right there in front of the doctor. That was the first time I realized people knew there was something going on. I was pretty defensive at first, but I think I was more embarrassed. I started crying because you don’t want to let your mom down.”
“I don’t know that I would’ve gotten better if it hadn’t affected my vocal cords,” Alaina told PEOPLE. “That was the first time it clicked for me. It wasn’t my hair falling out. It wasn’t my bones sticking out too much — it was my voice. When they told me that my voice was going to go away, that really got to me.”
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Alaina has been open about her struggles with food dating back to 2017 when she released her personal Road Less Traveled album. At the time, she said she couldn’t have imagined ever telling anyone what she considered to be her “deepest, darkest secret.”
“Honestly, I thought I would never tell anyone that I had an eating disorder,” Alaina shared. “It was my deepest, darkest secret. My dad didn’t know.”
Now that she has overcome her battle with an eating disorder, Alaina, 28, hopes to use her voice and story to bring awareness to a disorder that has disrupted many people’s lives.
“There are so many people who have eating disorders or who body-shame themselves every day or have some sort of insecurity, and I feel like I have a direct reach to some of those people,” Alaina, who has since adopted a health and wellness routine, said. “When I finally healed, I wanted to help other people heal, because it’s a trap. It’s a horrible place to be in. You feel alone, and you feel like no one understands. I decided to speak out because I wanted people to feel like there’s someone else out there that’s had to deal with it.”
Kristy White opened up about Lauren Alaina’s severe eating disorder in hopes to help others struggling with Bulimia.
The Got It From My Momma Podcast, recorded near Nashville, Tenn., launched on November 29, 2022, and features in-depth interviews with the mothers of country music stars. Past interviews have included Thomas Rhett’s mom, Paige Lankford, Jessie James Decker’s mom, Karen Parker, Russell Dickerson’s mom, Carol Dickerson, and more.