One of Australia's most popular voices in health and nutrition, Jessica Sepel, discusses the dangerous misconceptions about food and health.
Jessica Sepel's dream to pursue a career as a nutritionist started early. As a young woman in her 20s, she was already obsessed with leading a healthy life.
But as the thousands of readers of her successful blog already know, her obsession ended up being not very healthy at all.
"I was a chronic bad dieter," Jessica revealed to LifeStyle. "I was obsessed with calorie counting, obsessed with numbers. I discovered diets at a really young age and they gave me a false sense of control. Being able to control my weight was, essentially, a way of being able to control my life."
Instead of considering the nutritional benefits of food, Jessica was falling into the common dieting trap, of wondering, "is this going to make me thin or fat?" Her "toxic" relationship with food was not making her feel good, but rather stressed and guilty.
"There's this relatively new term people are talking about, 'orthorexia' - being obsessed with healthy food - and I think it is a result of the diet culture and millions of fad diets being thrown our way," she explained.
"[When I began studying] I started realising, my god, I was living off artificial sweeteners. [I was] petrified of carbohydrates and fat, and basically I just learned how my relationship with food had become so toxic."
As a nutritionist, Jess now focuses on helping her clients find a healthy relationship with food.
Her advice for others is simple: strive for balance and don't succumb to extremes.
"Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there preaching extremes, and I see the results of that because I have young girls coming to me in my clinic, when I was practicing, who have severe eating disorders - and that’s a result of the extremes that are being thrown our way," she revealed.
"My approach, nutritionally, is to eat wholefoods or foods as close to their natural state as possible. But eating variety and balance is so important, and not giving up on any of the macronutrients."
At the end of the day, Jess knows everybody (and, literally, every body) is different. She believes it's really up to the individual to figure out what makes them feel good.
"I’m just encouraging people to understand that their bodies are so biochemically unique, and what works for me might not work for you."