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How Katharine McPhee’s Pregnancy Weight Triggered Her Mental Health Struggles

Katharine McPhee
 Larry Marano/Shutterstock

Mental health matters. Though Katharine McPhee was experiencing normal pregnancy weight gain, she struggled with thoughts that said otherwise.

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“Even though you know your body is going to change, and you expect that, if you’re someone who has control issues with your body … psychologically, I think it just does something different,” McPhee, 37, explained to Katherine Schwarzenegger on the latter’s Instagram Live series Before, During and After (BDA).

McPhee welcomed son Rennie with husband David Foster in February 2021. Nearly a year after giving birth, the Scorpion alum is revealing how her changing body truly affected her.

“The journey with self love and people who do struggle with weight, it ebbs and flows, right?” she said on the Thursday, February 17, episode. “You have seasons where there’s no problems at all where you get up and your body tells you you’re hungry, you eat — and then you have days where all you do is think about food. For people who are on that journey, that’s their sort of life struggle. I can relate to that. As I got older, it got a lot better. And when I was pregnant, it kind of reactivated a bit.”

The California native noted that she gained around 45 pounds, a very typical amount for her height and weight, but McPhee emphasized that everyone has an individual experience. She was very hungry in her first trimester and worried that she shouldn’t have been. McPhee detailed intrusive thoughts where she worried about getting “so fat” and hating herself.

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“It played with my mind a little bit,” the actress explained. The new mom has previously been open about her struggle with disordered eating and bulimia as a teenager and enrolled in therapy during her senior year of high school.

She wanted to enjoy being pregnant but found herself obsessing over thoughts about food and body image.

“I felt like I was losing control and I was going back to this old disordered version of myself, which was upsetting because I just wanted to enjoy my baby,” McPhee told Schwarzenegger, 32, who is expecting her second child with husband Chris Pratt.

The former Smash star sought help when she realized her mental health was in trouble. “I actually called my old psychiatrist, from when I was in a program in my early 20s, and he came and sat with me, and said, ‘What’s going on?'” she recalled.

McPhee was shocked to find that this thought pattern was completely normal, and a recurrence in mental health struggles can come with the pregnancy hormones. This was a massive relief to McPhee.

“I was able to kind of enjoy the rest of my pregnancy,” she said.

The American Idol alum also decided to stop seeing her dietician, and she realized that obsessing about what the standards were for a pregnancy diet was only making her struggles worse.

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“The way I was able to overcome disordered behavior, in terms of food, was not obsessing and letting my body tell me what was needed,” she said. “Not being like, ‘It has to be oatmeal in the morning, four ounces of protein,’ because that makes me crazy.”

In October 2021, McPhee exclusively told Us Weekly that she was prioritizing both time with her baby and her psychological health.

“I’ve been trying to just, like, enjoy motherhood and not worry about the size [of] jeans that I want to obsessively be in. I’ve just been kind of happy where I’m at,” she explained to Us, noting the importance of “a great healthy mental state” first and foremost.

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