'I felt totally repulsed by the greasy burger… all I could think was I have to get this out of me': Claire Richards reveals her desperate battle with bulimia
15:02 GMT, 24 June 2012
She has opened up about crippling depression which left her house-bound for years after quitting Steps.
Now Claire Richards has revealed how low she sank in the grip of an eating disorder while she was part of the group.
Writing in her autobiography All Of Me, which has been serialised in The Sun, Claire has been frank about her warped relationship with food and her dependance on dangerous slimming pills.
Shocking revelations: Claire Richards has spoken out about how she struggled in the grip of an eating disorder while she was in Steps in the late 90s
Claire, who is now a size 16 and happy with her shape, remembers one particularly painful experience when she was appearing on a children's TV show in the states.
The blonde star, 34, explained how the group were taken to a burger restaurant where she had no choice but to eat some fast food.
She said: 'As soon as I'd finished it, I started panicking. I rushed back to where we were filming, found the toilets and stuck my fingers down my throat to try and make myself throw up. All I could think was, “I have to get this out, I can't get on stage with this inside me.'
Not healthy: Claire has revealed how she would make herself sick after meals, seen here at the height of the bands fame in 2000
'I felt totally repulsed by the greasy burger I'd just swallowed . I must have been in the toilet for ages because the burger just wouldn't come up.'
Claire has also admitted that she became so obsessed with losing weight she turned to slimming pills.
She noted: 'It was a fit of desperation. They had ephedrine in them, which boosts your metabolic rate, helps burn fat and suppresses appetite.'
But the effects of the stimulant were not pleasant and the singer began bizarre behaviour baking cakes and cookies at 5am int the morning.
In a happy place: The 34-year-old singer, who is now 34, has said she is comfortable with her size 16 shape
She explained: 'It was like a production line in my kitchen. Who does that when they're taking slimming pills I was literally off my head on slimming pills.'
Claire's issues may well have been ignited when she was told she was too fat as she auditioned for a place in the band alongside Lisa Scott-Lee, Faye Tozer, Lee Latchford-Evans and Ian Watkins.
She explained: 'Before I got into the band I was made to promise I would lose weight. I was 10 stone at the time – not big especially as I'm 5ft 6in.'
'I had no idea those comments about my weight would come to haunt me during my time in Steps.'
The blonde star has also spoken of how being in the five-piece 'destroyed what little confidence I had', leaving her struggling to find her identity once they disbanded.
Although Claire left the Tragedy stars because she was unhappy, she was surprised to find her mood didn't improve once she was a free agent.
Happier now: Steps singer Claire Richards has conquered the depression she suffered after Steps split
Tense times: Claire with her Steps bandmates Lee Latchford-Evans, Ian 'H' Watkins, Faye Tozer and Lisa Scott-Lee in their heyday
Claires autobiography, All Of Me, is published by Sidgwick & Jackson on July 5
She said: 'When I left the band it was because I couldn’t cope any more. But then I had nothing to fill the space Steps had left.
couldn’t cope. For four years I barely went out. I don’t think I had a
breakdown but I was so embarrassed about people seeing me – worried what
they would stay.'
As she got used to her new life out of the spotlight, she admitted her depression grew and she found it difficult to leave her house.
She said: 'I was depressed. I’d stay in bed until lunchtime, then lie on the sofa watching TV.
'I went into reverse dieting. I’d buy a pack of cakes for four and eat the lot. It was like I was grieving.'
Claire sang many of the lead vocals in Steps during her five years with the pop group before they split on Boxing Day 2001.
She went on to form a duo with Steps bandmate Ian 'H' Watkins, but they disbanded after 2003 after two years together.
She also had a difficult first marriage to deal with.
Claire married her first husband, Steps dancer Mark Webb in 2003, but they split in 2005.
she found happiness in May 2007, when she gave birth to her first child
Charlie and married his father, former publicity manager Reece Hill in
2008. Their daughter Daisy followed a year later.
Steps put their differences behind them to reunite last year.
Claire’s autobiography, All Of Me, is published by Sidgwick & Jackson on July 5.