When I was a little girl, my grandparents commented on what I ate.
All the time.
I can remember being six-years-old at a family brunch, and my grandparents saying, “ Wow, you are a big eater. What an eater. So much food.”
To say that this impacted me would be an understatement: I ultimately developed a very complex relationship with food. Not because of grandparents commenting on it – that couldn’t have been the sole reason – but it certainly didn’t do any good to a vulnerable little girl.
As a nutritionist and someone who is very interested in helping women heal their relationship with food, I really think it is DANGEROUS to comment on a child or teenager’s plate of food – whether the opinion is positive or negative.
Of course we need to give our children guidance and be good role models when it comes to eating healthy food, but I worry that commenting and criticizing a young person on his or her food choices can quickly become problematic.
In fact, I think it is also dangerous when friends comment, judge or criticize what you are eating. (Note: they usually comment when they are insecure about their own eating habits anyway.)
DO teach yourself to have a conversation with your family and friends. You can be assertive without being aggressive and simply let them know how you feel.
DO stand up for yourself. Politely let the commenter know you do not need their opinion or blessing when it comes to your food choices.
DO help your parents understand what you are feeling in a gracious way.
DO explain your food passion and passion for healthy living to your parents.
DO let go and give people space to have their judgments. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but you don’t have to agree.
DO be honest about your legitimate dietary requirements. Most people will respect it and want to be sure you are taken care of.
DO learn to say no thanks and stick up for what you want – because that empowers other people around you to do the same.
DO figure out what makes you feel good on your own. It may not necessarily be what you have been told.
DON’T listen to what the magazines or Instagram tell you. That requires some experimentation and listening to your body!
And if you have children?
DON’T put your food and weight insecurities onto your child.
DON’T comment on weight and food at family functions or in front of young people. I recently heard a little five-year-old say “I don’t like carbs.” How does a five-year-old even know what carbs are?! This child has heard it from someone who fears carbs and probably says it all day. Children pick up on what we’re doing. Let’s set positive examples for them!
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
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.
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).
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
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.
I want to empower you to make good choices, every day. I want you to enhance your understanding of health and nutrition. I'm committed to making sure you live the best life. Because you deserve it. Are you ready to start feeling great?
Let me know your email address so I can send you an eBook '7 Days on my plate' - a little gift from me to you!