Do you know the signs of Orthorexia?

JS health


Orthorexia is an obsessive way of eating that involves only eating foods that one considers healthy. It’s a medical condition in which the sufferer avoids specific foods with the belief they are harmful. It’s a topic we’ve spoken about once before (if you missed it, you can catch it here) when Jordan from The Balanced Blonde bravely spoke up about her struggle with the eating disorder that’s becoming more and more prominent. Jessica Sepel of JS Health shared with us her experience and some tips on how to overcome it. 


Thanks to social media and the amount of information available to us, many young people I meet suffer from orthorexia. It’s a relatively new term that I think is the next big concern in the health world – especially amongst teenagers.


It seems like every second conversation I have or overhear is about food and fitness. When I’m out with friends, it’s the hot topic. When I’m sitting at my local café, it’s the subject of discussion at the next table.


js health 2Yes, we’re becoming more health-conscious, and that’s great. I’m a proud nutritionist, after all! But some people are taking it to the extreme.


I used to be one of them, so I recognise the signs. It’s easy to fall into the trap of being obsessive with food, being too careful, and literally being scared to eat unhealthy food.


My passion is to protect young people from being victims of this cycle. Why? Because it adds huge physical and emotional stress to the body and mind.


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 is why I created my 8-week program to heal your relationship with food and your body. I encourage balance with food. It’s why I ask you to indulge occasionally. Perfect eating is not the goal; it doesn’t exist. Flexible eating is the aim.


We blame binges and emotional eating on all the emotional factors in our lives. We are sad, happy, lonely or excited – and so we turn to food. But binges are triggered from an initial deprivation game – which leads to a vicious cycle of habit. We need to understand the physiological and behavioural causes of a binge rather and then determine what will work best for us as individuals to end the cycle. These are the best ways I’ve found to stop emotional eating:


  • Give up dieting, restricting and deprivation. Restricting your food intake puts your body into starvation mode, plain and simple. Binges and emotional eating often begins as a result of rebelling against starvation. See my recent blog post about diets and why they simply don’t work. So what do you do instead?


  • Give yourself permission to have food.When you truly are hungry, ask yourself: what do you really need? What are you really hungry for in that moment? This takes practice, but you’ll be amazed at how wise you really are – and what information you’ll get just from listening to your body.


  • Commit to a wholefood diet that includes plenty of balance. Do not cloud your eating experience with negative thoughts like “This is a bad food” or “I should not be eating this.” Your body manifests those thoughts into bodily stress. Please, be at peace with your plate. “Perfect” does not exist.


Jess Sepel has just released The JSHealth Program an 8-week plan to quit diets forever, reach your balanced weight and live the healthy life. It’s full of amazing recipes, cooking demos, meal plans and tips to increase energy levels, manage stress and heal a complex relationship with food. Living the Healthy Life (with over 160 AMAZING delicious recipes), goes hand in hand with the Program and can be found in all good bookstores and online from her website: