Real Talk: I Still Have Anxiety Around Food, Weight & Body Image – How I Cope

Real Talk

As you guys know – much of my teenage life was spent being a fad dieter and being a totally weight obsessed little girl. As a result, my body image was down in the dumps. My weight defined myself worth.

… And every day is a battle to keep my body image healthy and positive because I spent so many/too many years hating on my body. It almost became a part of me.


I have spent the last few years in therapy trying to heal this. I have come a very long way. But I am absolutely still healing and love writing about this journey in my books/on the blog because I know so many of you can relate.


Anxiety around food and body causes huge amounts of mind-body stress, making it very hard for you to heal your life. It’s an epidemic, and weight has become a marker of self-worth. It causes us to be incredibly nasty to ourselves, ruining our relationships with our bodies in the process.


We’re imperfect people, and we all eat badly sometimes. But it’s not worth stressing about. We just need to learn how to handle anxious or guilty food/body moments. If you want to repair that relationship, you have to try to make peace with your weight and your unique body. That’s the starting point.


Strive to be fit, healthy and sexy, with a weight that’s sustainable. It’s not realistic to aim for the same weight you were at when you were 15 or 17 years old. Your body adapts and responds to different stages: puberty, fertility, pregnancy, menopause. Accept this. Focus on looking and feeling your best NOW. Some days I catch myself criticizing every body part in the mirror or a photo of myself. It can be so tortuous. Being so self-aware and hyper critical is so dangerous.


I also sometimes catch myself feeling anxious and guilty around food – mainly during travel. My old demons pop up! The minute I am out of my comfort zones – it worsens. However its 90% better than it used to be – scary!


And if you have some form of disordered eating/body image stuff – you must know that to some degree it may always be a part of you. It never really leaves you. But I am so passionate about helping people find the tools to cope with it and to ultimately developer a kinder relationship with their bodies – to the point where body/food anxiety decreases (it may never fully go away – but there are great ways to manage it).


I feel very lucky to have the tools in my box these days to deal with anxious body moments:


The next time you can’t stop thinking about something you ate, take a deep breath and follow these tips.


  • Dissolve the negative thought by giving it attention and love. Don’t judge it. Just accept it as opposed to getting angry for having the thought. You’re allowed to think! Be kind.Just being aware of these negative thoughts is the first step to turning them around.
  • Remind yourself that food is just food. Focus on what really matters in your life.
  • Go into a forward fold as soon as you can.
  • Think positively. Instead of saying, “I can’t believe I ate that entire bag of nuts,” say, “I know my body is strong enough to break down my food. Tomorrow is a new day.”
  • Jot down a list of eating/lifestyle adjustments that will help you to feel better about yourself. For instance: drink less alcohol for two weeks, go to yoga twice this week and don’t eat anything out of a packet.
  • Give up the all-or-nothing mentality around food. Strike for balance and moderation, not perfection – it does not exist.
  • Head to a yoga class.
  • Write down five things about yourself that you love.


Side bubble: Say these affirmations loud and proud

“I trust my body.”

“I am good enough.”

“I am balanced.”

“My body can handle imperfect eating”



How to heal in the long term


  • Get more sleep. A lack of sleep makes everything seem a whole lot worse. Prevent irrational thoughts by heading to bed at a reasonable hour (I suggest lights out by 10pm) and sleeping for at least 8 hours.
  • Eat a balanced diet, full of nourishing nutrients. When you eat well, you feel well.
  • Write down the parts of your body you feel grateful for. I like to keep this list in the notes app on my phone. I wake up every morning and feel grateful for 5 body parts.
  • Create a plan of action for when the shaming strikes. If you’re not feeling great about yourself, steer clear of mirrors and go into a forward fold right away. To do this, sit on the floor and lean over your body. Breathe deeply and give thanks for your health and the body parts you like. If you can’t think of any, thank your legs for carrying you every day or your heart for beating life into your body. Keep breathing deeply until the feeling passes.
  • Let go of the desire to have a perfect body – it does not exist. Choose to live a wholesome, happy and balanced life instead. I was so unhappy when I was at my skinniest.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others. My advice is to delete those Instagram and Facebook accounts of ‘models’ who are airbrushed and photoshopped to the max. Go on a social media detox for a while if you can. And throw out the magazines that make you feel insecure, because guess what? The girl in the magazine doesn’t even look like the girl in the magazine!
  • Surrender to what it is. Your body wants your love, so make the decision to stop fighting it. The quicker you accept your body shape as it is, the better it will be able to heal so you can go on with your awesome life.


Do you experience the same sort of emotions around food? How do you deal with food anxiety when it hits? Here for you – let’s grow together #realtalk






Swisse Skincare




Gaia Retreat & Spa


The Healthy Life


JSHealth Vegan Meal Plan


JSHealth Travel Plan




14 Day Slim Down Plan - 2 weeks to a leaner you!


The JSHealth Shopping List - Stock up on these foods for a healthier household


Nutrition 101 - A step by step nutrition guide to optimal health


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


The Clean Life - An Expert Guide To Health From The Inside Out


Restart Plan - Cleanse your system in 2 - 4 weeks & reveal a slimmer, healthier you


JSHealth Partners


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.