What Led to My Disordered Eating & How I Overcame It


If we dig deeper for a moment… There is always an underlying emotional reason behind having a complicated relationship with food. These are the reasons why I believe so many of us have developed a complicated relationship with food and our bodies:


  • Fear. Fear of rejection, of not being enough, not being accepted, appreciated or loved.
  • Lack of trust.
  • A need for control.
  • Societal pressure to look a certain way.
  • Losing perspective of what really matters.
  • Guilt and the belief that we are not enough.


When I was 13 years old I became a chronic fad dieter and I developed a complicated relationship with food as a result. Looking back I was very afraid of not being accepted or  loved and fearful of rejection after immigrating to Australia. I used food and weight as a means of controlling the pain and insecurity I was feeling at the time. My weight became a barometer for self love and acceptance. My worth was measured by a number on the scales. After years of dieting and years of hating on myself, I had become so disconnected to my body. Losing this sense of love and appreciation lead to a serious lack of trust.


When you lack trust in your body, anxiety is the natural result. Food control is so often anxiety-based. Because food is such an integral part of our lives, controlling it allows us to cope with anxiety around family relationships, social groups, the pressure to look a certain way, our weight and body image. Food brings comfort – in choosing to eat or avoid certain foods you feel like you have gained control. There is so much pressure in our society to be thin; from media (especially social media!) and celebrity culture. There could also be pressure in your family – comments or criticism about your weight or how you eat. Food is not meant to be so complicated.


Questions to ask yourself:

  • Where did you lose your love for yourself?
  • When did the trust in yourself break?
  • What has gone wrong along the way to make me feel like I need to be on a diet or a certain weight to be loved? To be thin to be in a relationship? Skinny to get a particular job?
  • Why do I feel the need to deprive myself?
  • What are you trying to control?
  • What is important to you? For so many years in my life I relied on what others thought of me. You have to come back to what really matters to you. How do YOU wake up and feel?


These are not easy questions to answer. And it took me a very long time to deal with this difficult topic.


How to rebuild a foundation of love for yourself:


It really is about learning to trust your body again. Dealing with that fear – of not being loved or accepted.


  • Personally, I did go to therapy for many years to uncover the reasons why I stopped loving myself and trusting myself.
  • Work on ways to rebuild your relationship with yourself. There are so many great ways to do just that. I find Yoga helps me reconnect to my body.
  • GRATITUDE – Starting to practice daily gratitude. It sounds corny – but keeping a gratitude journal (it can even be a list in your phone) of 3 things you are grateful for about your body can make all the difference. My personal gratitude practice: I wake up and actually put my hand on heart and stomach and think of the body parts I am grateful for. Think of the body parts you love e.g. Thank you for the legs that help me walk, thank you for my heart that is still beating, thank you for my brain which is thinking clearly.
  • Deal with the anxiety – Meditation and mindfulness practices are amazing for this. Try my JSHealth Pre-Meal Meditation and tips for What I Do When I Wake Up Anxious. Seek professional help if you need.
  • Schedule more YOU time – it helps you reconnect with yourself and indirectly helps heal your relationship with food. Just 10-30 mins to do something for yourself e.g. a walk in nature, reading a book, cooking your favourite meal.
  • Make a commitment to give up dieting. Dieting does not work, if there was a diet that worked we would all be on it. The only thing that does work is giving yourself permission to enjoy and love food. Remind yourself that you are worthy of enjoying and loving yourself. You have to let go of a desire to deprive yourself. If you love yourself enough – you will let go. When you rebuild that foundation of self-love you realise you don’t deserve to put yourself through deprivation and restriction, your body is too precious for that.


This is not an easy or quick fix – but it is so worth it. Love yourself. Know that you are enough. I am here and listening to you. Let me know how you go xx


My Emotional Eating Guide has more tips to help rebuild your relationship with food and your body, you can find it here.





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Emotional Eating Guide - Learn how to rebuild your relationship with food and your body


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Hi Jessica, I believe in synchronicity so when I was guided to you .on FB I was intrigued and inspired. I turned 46 last week and my husband bought me your book. I wanted to thank you for sharing your wisdom in such a beautifully presented way. My  copy is now filled with tabs and post it notes with actual notes throughout. I am dairy intolerant since having my gallbladder removed 15+ years ago, I don't eat meat, very minimal gluten and was told 12 months ago my gut was not digesting my food properly so I wasn't receiving sufficient nutrients and taking supplements would be a waste of time.  My weight fluctuates tending to gain rather than lose but now I believe I have a tool to help me bring my body back into balance that I need for my health and longevity of life - so again thank you. The first few steps to creating a stronger path forward for my health has found its foundation in your beautiful book, The Healthy Life.

With kindest regards Samantha

I'm writing this email because I wanted to tell you how much I love your blog and how you really helped me in my health journey. Thank you for sharing all your advices and experiences.

When I started my studies, I was drinking lots of coffee and I was eaten the wrong foods, and feel bad about it, I wasn't at my best. So I had done some research on the net but at first I didn't found advices that are for me, and then I found your blog. It was exactly what I was looking for, good advices and healthy recipes. Now I'm following your advices on rest more, and snacks between meals and prep the meals and take time for myself to reconnect with my body and let go my anxiety, etc, and I have a more balanced life and have a new relationship with food thanks to you.

I bought your book and it's honestly the best book I have ever bought. I suffer from IBS and anxiety. I have paid so much money seeing naturopaths however after reading your book and all of your tips I'm noticing so much of a difference, so simple and easy to follow. And symptoms have dramatically decreased. Also you have helped me to relax. Currently drinking the protein health smoothie! Thankyou your amazing.


Hey Jessica!
I haven’t yet brought ‘The Healthy Life’, but I do have the clean life and your slim down plan! I would like to thank you so much for the knowledge your share and the message you put across about health and wellness. I’m studying Nutritional Medicine in Melbourne and absolutely love the philosophy that you share with your JSHealth community. The work you’ve done to show people that leading a healthy lifestyle isn’t boring, tasteless, difficult or depriving is amazing and hope to share the message myself one day. You’ve inspired me to start my own blog , to share the message and have taught me so many things about my own health! You should be proud of your achievements! Thank you again

- Jacinta

I searched for help and tips through the Internet and found Jessica Sepel. This is seriously not exaggerated, but she was the reason why I have dared myself to eat again, to have snacks in between, to nourish my body. I could slowly improve my negative thoughts about my body image and my stupid anxiety of gaining weight. Besides, The Cleanest Gut was awesome too! A huge thank you! Especially from my mum. Seriously, without you I wouldn’t be where I am now!


Congratulations on your new book! It looks absolutely gorgeous. I’ve been following you on Instagram for a few years and you’ve inspired me to slowly but surely eat healthier without giving myself a hard time when I don’t. It made me so happy (and weirdly proud) to see the Daily Mail article on The Healthy Life. I remember trying out your recipes before you even had your eBook out! I can’t wait to get my hands on the book. Keep up the great work.

– Sophie

Cooking in this way truly brought out the foodie in me and has instilled a huge passion for health and wellness! Life throws you hard and frustrating things sometimes but I truly believe that this is where we learn more about ourselves and what our passions in life are! Thank you for inspiring me on my journey to health and wellness!


I am a yoga teacher in Johannesburg and am thrilled to have bought your book today. I love making healthy, nutritious food for my family, friends and fellow yogis! Thank you for this book and your inspiration (had to share a pic of my book on my recipe stand in the kitchen).

– Helene

I bought your beautiful book during the week and told my bestie to go out and buy it also! I love love love it. It is the book I would give to my younger self if I could (I am 41 years old). Everything is just so sensible and informative and is definitely a book all teenagers should have. This should be a text book for girls becoming teens. I will love going back and re-reading it many many times and can't wait to make more of the recipes. Thank you Jess - you are an incredibly inspiring woman and you should feel so proud

Michelle Curtis

My fiancé bought your book and we have cooked some of your meals. Amazing! I love your outlook on a healthy lifestyle and your hints and tips with preparing tasty meals are fantastic. Thanks for reviving us to live a healthier lifestyle and get our bodies wedding ready.