Australian nutritionist Jessica Sepel has recalled the extreme methods she used while battling disordered eating in a series of Instagram stories, alongside an important message for other women who might be struggling.
“This is so crazy,” she says as the video pans over a pile of papers. “I’ve just found my old diet files. When I was struggling with disordered eating and my relationship with food I would write down every single thing that I ate and write strict rules for myself.”
The author had detailed unhealthy instructions about what she could and couldn't eat, extreme directions for the amount of exercise she had to undertake and tips for suppressing her appetite.
“So I just wanted to say that you’re not alone if you’re struggling with food or your weight or your body image, you can see I’ve been there and I really struggled and I really understand you and I’m really here for you,” Jessica continued. “Everyone struggles to some degree.”
The WH Fitfluencer and anti-diet advocate has previously opened up about her experience with orthorexia – an unhealthy obsession with “healthy” eating.
“It’s easy to fall into the trap of being obsessive with food, being too careful, and literally being scared to eat unhealthy food,” she wrote on her blog last year.
“We have to try to heal this obsessive mentality around food early, before it controls our lives. Food is fuel and nourishment – that’s all. It’s not the driver of our thoughts. There is SO MUCH more to life than worrying about what we’re eating.”
This learning is what drove her to start her program JSHealth.
“It’s become a platform where women can support each other and show each other that balance with food does exists. You don’t have to be on another diet or practice extremes in order to live a healthy life.”
Jessica told Women’s Health that the response to her movement has been heartening.
“When women share their experiences with me I feel so honoured they feel close enough to me to tell me about their journey. It fills my heart right up, because this is my calling. This is why I do what I do."
“The amount of women who are changing with the JSHealth Method is a pure reflection that women are desperate for balance. They are sick of diets of extremes.”
And if she could go back and tell that woman with the "diet files" one thing?
“I would tell myself to stop striving for perfection. What I am is enough. Being thin won’t make you happier.”
That’s a lesson we all need to learn.
If you are worried about yourself or someone in your care, the best thing you can do is talk to someone. Please contact the Butterfly Foundation 1800 33 4673 or chat online.