Lauren Alaina’s Mom Opens Up About the Singer’s Years-Long Bulimia Battle
From her second-place American Idol finish to her 2022 induction into the Grand Ole Opry, Lauren Alaina has had no shortage of career highs — but there have also been some low moments, too. The singer has long been open about the battle with bulimia that nearly cost her her career, and in a new interview, Alaina's mom Kristy White shares her side of the difficult experience, too.
White is the guest on the latest episode of the Got It From My Mama podcast, a show hosted by Jennifer Vickery Smith, who is the mother of country act Conner Smith. In each episode, Smith interviews a country star's mom about their experience of having a famous child.
During the nearly hour-long conversation, White and Smith talk about different aspects of Alaina's childhood and career — from her earliest experiences of performing to White's doubts about her daughter's decision to pursue fame at such a young age — and dig into how White addressed the problem when Alaina developed an eating disorder as a teen.
"That was a very difficult time in our lives," White acknowledges, explaining that Alaina's disordered relationship with food began when she was a contestant on Idol at age 15, and grappling with negative social media comments about her weight.
"I started noticing that her eating pattern had changed," she recounts, adding that Alaina experienced pressure from the show itself to lose weight. "And at one point, she would only eat cucumbers."
White hoped that after her stint on Idol was behind her, Alaina would return to a healthier relationship with food, but instead, she continued to deteriorate after the season ended.
"I mean, her hair was falling out ... she would eat, and I would notice that she would go to the bathroom. So I started following her," White continues. "I was like, 'Lauren, do you have a problem?' She was like, 'No, mom. I promise I don't have a problem.'"
Finally, White called her daughter's pediatrician, a doctor that Alaina had always liked and trusted. "I told him what was going on with her, and I said, 'I'm gonna bring her in for a physical ... but we have to get her help, because I'm really afraid she could die.'"
By that point, Alaina's eating disorder was taking a terrifying toll on her health.
"She was so skinny at one point that her face was drawn in," White says. When the doctor questioned her about her eating habits, the young singer initially denied her eating disorder, but her mom confronted her, saying "Lauren, I don't think you're telling the truth."
In previous interviews about her eating disorder, Alaina has pointed to one specific conversation at that doctor's visit that helped her come to terms with her disorder: He told her that bulimia would exacerbate the polyps on her vocal cords, and could eventually cut her singing career short.
“Obviously, singing is the only thing I want to do in life,” she told the Tennessean at the time. “I have no backup plan. People knowing made me not want to do it.”
But her journey toward healthy eating habits took time. In fact, White says that her daughter's battle lasted for years, and she was there alongside her every step of the way.
"Every day she had to get up and look in the mirror and say something confident about herself," White relates. "It wasn't just months. It was years."
Alaina's battle with bulimia and journey towards confidence — even in the face of hateful comments on social media — would later inspire her song "Road Less Traveled," which came out in 2016 and hit No. 1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart.
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