GUILDFORD EVENT: Coping At Christmas

I am passionate about empowering people through their recovery and believe community based interventions are crucial for supporting the Mental Health burden faced by the NHS. Together we can provide an environment that fosters proactive approach to recovery and empowers those who are suffering.

Are you suffering from disordered eating?
Maybe you have past experience with emotional under or over eating? Or a diagnosed clinical disorder such as Anorexia or Bulimia nervosa
Maybe you’re supporting a loved one through their recovery
Anxious about the Christmas season approaching? 

It is no surprise that Christmas and New Years bring a load of seasonal struggles to those suffering with an eating disorder

With the heightened focus on foody events, drinks out, meeting relatives you’ve not seen in years, and then the mass of confusing chaos that is “diet Jan”
Recovery can be more of a battle field compared to other months of the year.  

I am here to tell you that Christmas is such a fantastic time of year and those festive fears have no right to dictate your enjoyment of the season.

They can be overcome, planned around and communicated in ways that enable you to “Cope At Christmas”  without taking steps back in your recovery. 




About Josceline-Joy christmassyonsie

Josceline is a Graduate Psychologist, media representative for Beat, the U

K’s leading eating disorder charity, public speaker, eating disorders recovery mentor and mental health campaigner.

After her own recovery from battling anorexia nervosa she was inspired to start her website, with the sole aim to raise awareness about mental health and help empower people to take the front seat in their recoveries.

Josceline was published by the British Psychological Society in their student journal, Psych-Talk, on the neuropathology of eating disorders and has twice been a guest speaker on the BBC’s popular news show Victoria Derbyshire discussing barriers to accessing mental health treatments. She has also had articles published on the Daily Mail, Real People Magazine and The Surrey Advertiser.

Currently Josceline is involved in public speaking and workshops, in schools and at Surrey University, as well as working with individuals on a one-to-one basis as a recovery mentor.



Exercise and regular movement does an abundance of good for your mental and physical health. It can help decrease anxiety and depression, build confidence and aid the development of positive body image. But when addressing the role exercise has in the recovery from an eating disorders it’s a tricky one.

Exercise is unlikely to benefit health when it’s fuelled by fear and stress rather than fun. For eating disorder sufferers this is largely the case. Exercise can become a maintaining factor in the illness, a way to punish your body for food you’ve eaten, or “earn” the right to eat.

Unfortunately this has now become a “socially acceptable” form of self-harm, promoted on social media and fuelled by many other “fat-phobic’’ messages in society.

So, Should You Exercise in Recovery?

There is not real ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer per say. Recovery is hugely individual, what triggers one person may not influence another.
There are times when exercise is dangerous on the body, like at very low body weights and when you have not eaten enough. Risk of injury, fainting, even fatalities are all common to those over-exercising with eating disorders.

When I was ill I exercised to fulfil my eating disorders demands.
I didn’t enjoy what I did, it was ritualistic, obsessive, and I often found myself in the gym purely based on the demands of my eating disorder; lethargic and under-nourished.

So when I was in recovery, I stopped exercising altogether, for about a year, and then gradually added it in (with some slip ups) as I got physically and mentally stronger
I wont sugar coat it, it caused a mass amounts of anxiety and fear to begin with.
But I was determined that I would build balance into my lifestyle and enjoyment into my movement.
Taking time off was not going to be forever, just for now, just to challenge the feeling of spontaneously combusting if I didn’t ritualistically work out.

It is through trial and error that we learn to balance our bodies needs in recovery.
We have to test out and challenge our anxious thoughts, and see just what happens when we do what the eating disorder tells us not do to do.

Exercising should NEVER come from a place fuelled by fear, obligation or anxiety.
Rather it should be for fun, from a place of self-compassion and desire to see what your body is capable of.
This can take a while to achieve if you’ve been stuck in this cycle of destructive exercise for a while.
Rest assured you can break free, and I whole heartedly believe with the right support you will.


and more articles like this over on:


“Fat” Is Not A Feeling


From the billion pound diet industries, to racism, sexism, ableism, and homophobia our world tells us not to love our bodies, even as far as to be ashamed of the skin we’re in.

Too often people refer to “feeling fat” as if “fat” is an adjective, the same as feeling ‘happy’, ’tired’, ‘restless’ or ‘joyful’.

Warped by the diet-ridden, fat phobic world we have become, this noun, “fat”, we have learnt to associated with feelings of self-dissatisfaction, shame, guilt, and discomfort.
A word used to reflect not feeling good enough.
Good enough to ourselves.
Good enough in the eyes of society.
Good enough in comparison to our friends, families or those we admire on social media.

A study investigating the content and frequency of fat shaming, body dissatisfaction and internalisation of the “thin ideal” amongst college students (predominately female) found that 90% engaged in conversational fat shaming of their own bodies, despite only 9% of them being clinically overweight and this was (unsurprisingly) associated with higher dissatisfaction and internalisation of the westernised “thin ideal”. 

This feeling now drives the chronic dieters, those who return to their “Monday morning diets” of restricted eating, eliminating food groups and over exercising, as this is now a socially justified form of self-care.

Not just only for women, but for many males I come across too.

So I want to remind you, in those moments when you sit there and think “I feel fat” remind yourself that “fatness” is not a feeling. But feeling fat means you’re feeling some other dissatisfaction, and that finding out what that is will be revolutionary to your overall well-being, and self-respect.

In those moments when we decide to sit and listen to our bodies sometimes we don’t always like what we feel back.
Pinnacle to recovery is learning to sit with, and work through, these uncomfortable feelings, without self-destructive thoughts and behaviours.

Remember, you have one body, and that body may be different in its abilities to others, treated differently in the past, have undergone illness or injury.  But what your body does and how it does it, demands your care, your respect and your constant unconditional love.
Feeding it.
Clothing it.
Moving it, and using it in the ways that build you up instead of breaking you down mentally as well as physically.

It’s a true act of self-care instead of a repetitive cycle of self-harm.

It by no means waking up every day and feeling amazing, but it’s accepting that it’s okay to feel shit about other stuff and not project this as a label onto yourself.

It’s a choice to respect your whole self, and in doing so respecting the diversity of bodies, minds and abilities that surround you.

Lastly, I want to encourage you to challenge the label of “feeling fat” because to those who are actually overweight, who may even face size discrimination, this terminology is damaging, adding to the daily fat-phobic stigmatisation that diet-culture fuels, reinforcing the warped thin idealisations that need to be challenged and changed

Its okay not to be okay
But it’s not okay to remain so.

Diet Culture Is Damaging Our Health: Problems and Solutions
Break Free from Comparative Behaviour and Negative Self-Talk [4 Challenges]
The Instagram Trap: #Fitspo or #GuiltTrip?


Tough Mudder 2015: In aid of Mind

Well, it’s Sunday September the 27th and I’ve been snuggled in my trackies, rugby on, with a large cup of tea for most of the day. All I can think about is where I was this time yesterday: The Matterly Bowl, London South, Tough Mudder.

beginingrunI don’t know if any amount of training could’ve prepared me for enduring a 11.5 mile hill run, being plummeted into freezing cold murky water (with ice on one occasion), swinging from monkey bars, jumping off ledges, scrambling under barbed wire and down dark trenches, through thick thigh climb2high mud (I don’t know how I didn’t lose my trainers) and clambering over many wooden walls. But Laura and I did it! And in doing so have raised an incredible £1100 in aid of Mind.

Saying that I’ve pushed my body beyond its limits is an understatement; I surprised myself with my stamina and managed to run the whole thing (obviously you do stop at the obstacles and the water stations). I would like to mention that before this event the only runrunrunrunning I’d done was on a treadmill…definitely took a running dive straight into the deep end.

On route they had interspersed water and snack stations. We were both very pleased since are start time meant that we hadn’t had lunch and were running on our breakfast energy – which was a substantial bowl of protein porridge, but we were definitely in need of all the fuel we could get. Especially as the intense shock of the freezing water depletes muscle strength immensely!

In the run up for this challenge I have dedicated a lot of time to doing weights (I’m a big body pump fan!), aiming to increase my upper body strength and gain a more fit and athletic physique. I aimed to work out 4-5 times a week, including two HIIT (high interval training sessions) hill run/sprints. Early gym starts, a toughmudderintrainingcupboard stashed up on My Protein products, and eating about 4 meals a day. Eating has been essential with gaining muscle mass and I could not have done this if my eating disorder was still present! It has been such a fantastic experience being able to do this without the intrusive anorexic thoughts of calorie burning and weight loss sneaking into the back of my mind, and I have loved every minute of the training.

As Laura and I stood at the start line, with the pledge of comradeship done, and four months of training behind us, I have never felt so anxious – but at the same time rcrybaby2eady to blitz this! We definitely had different mentalities towards a lot of the obstacles, Laura being more cautious, and sensibly so when your about to crawl into a tunnel of tear gas or jump from a 5ft ledge on to unstable ground, and me with an all singing all dancing attitude likely to end in severe injury. Luckily the worst injury was a slightly pulled back muscle, bruise on the elbow and a broken nail. However, I am now suffering now with a nasty fluey cold and I think this is probably due to how cold I was at the end of the run and accidentally swallowing some stagnant water!!

The best feeling, other than running through that finish line and knowing that we had completed it, was the first time I saw my dad at the side. Due to the length of the course (12 miles) spectators  were limited to specific routes enabling them to see certain obstacles and parts of the runbolt, but not the whole course. I had lost hope of seeing my dad since we had started before he had arrived and were now a good two hours into the run. I told myself “you’ll see him at the finish line” and proceeded to encourage myself to keep going. Just as we were running on from one of the check points I looked up to hgogirlsear “there’s my baby girl” being shouted out and a camera phone held high in the air. A smile, that would envy even the Cheshire cat’s, spread across my face, and it was like a new buzz of energy was released in me. My dad used to run marathons back in his prime, and I wanted to show to him just how tough his ‘baby girl’ really was.

My Top 2 Favourite Obstacles of The Race

My favourite obstacle was the ‘King of the Swingers’ where you jump off a scaffolding ledge, grabbing hold of a metal bar gojoss copyin attempt to swing and hit a bell, and launching yourself into deep, muddy water. Signs posted stating “strong swimmers only” were planted around the vicinity, and just previously to our arrival there an ambulance had taken one lady away on a stretcher who had unfortunately had another person launched on to her.
It is exhilarating, thrilling and down right dirty when you accidentally swallow that filthy, brown, water -but it was refreshing to wash off the mud that had began to dry in thick patches all over my skin.By the time we’d reached this obstacle we’d already ran 9-10 miles and were fatiguing; with muscles aching and shivering from the setting sun, there were times where I had to run on from Laura just to keep my body heat up.

My second favourite, ‘The Muddy Mile’; a mile of thick, waist high mud, double high entrance and exit mounds, with mudder2vertical mud masses interspersed between the pools of mud to clamber over and slide down into more waist high gloop. Being a bit of a tomboy the thought of climbing and sliding around in thick mud was actually pretty fun! What wasn’t fun was then running afterwards, covered in an extra few pounds of mud weight! But did that stop us?! Not a chance!

lauraandiThe Final Ascent

As we queued for Everest the sun was setting behind the rolling hills, and many people were shivering. We were at the penultimate hurdle, but I was beginning to falter. I was so cold and my feet sodden, arms scratched and muscles torn and sore. But there I was, face-to-face with a quarter pipe covered in slippery mud, with a rope that looked suspect to having no grip left – and it didn’t. People were jumping and jogging on the spot to keep body heat up and there were moments where I felt as though I was going to be sick. As I used the last inch of my leg power I launched myself up, grabbing on to two of my fellow mudders hands that had stationed themselves above the ramp ready to pull others over.

We’d made it.

Everest2 copy

It Was All Thanks To You!

I cannot begin to say how thankful I am to each and every one of you who sponsored Laura and I. The money raised is overwhelming, and as I ran through the finish line tears pricked the back of my eyes – partly from pain and tiredness, and then from sheer amazement that both Laura and I had completed and survived this challenge which a year or two ago would have been incomprehensible. That cider we were given on completion tasted so sweet!Finished

Final Reflections

Limitations only exist if you let them.

The tough mudder is definitely a mental challenge as well as physical one, and as I was running the last mile I felt the strongest I’d ever felt.

The best thing was that there were people there from every walk of life; some at the peak of their fitness, others who were not. All shapes, ages, and sizes.

This challenge has proved to me that when I set my mind to something I see it through to the end and don’t allow any limitations to drag me down. Whatever your ‘tough challenge’ may be, may this be proof to you that you can achieve anything you set your mind to.


“Don’t just fly, soar.” – Dumbo

BBC 2 Victoria Derbyshire Show: The BMI Debate

Since when did my BMI determine my right to treatment?


I was honoured to be invited onto the BBC 2 Victoria Derbyshire show to speak about a topic very close to my heart, and one which I am passionate about: Mental Health and access to treatment.

Recovery is a process that is long, and its journey cannot be completed alone. Treatment is an important step in anyones journey, whether that is recovering from depression, a broken leg or cancer.

Doctors, nurses, dieticians, psychiatrists…and many more, will all come into play.
Therapists and counsellors play a pinnacle role in helping recovery from many of the underlying psychological problems associated with eating disorders and mental health illness, and also help unite all members of the wider family together to optimise the recovery environment for the individual.
When recovery proves too hard, or the physical state of the individual poses serious risk to their health, and the wellbeing of the wider family, then inpatient treatments are also available….or not so it would seem.

With such fantastic services available the door to access them can be hard. Worse, can even promote deterioration rather than promote health.

On this episode of BBC 2 Vicotria Derbyshire show, I shared one of my experiences trying to access treatment as an adult (18+), and actually being denied help because my BMI was apparently not “low enough” although I was way below the average healthy weight, with difficulty breathing at night, and bed sores from protruding bones.

Eating Disorders are a mental health illness with physical symptoms, so when did BMI become an appropriate measure of my mental state and its manifesting behaviours?

As it stands, the very inaccurate form of measurement ‘Body Mass Index’ (BMI) is still used in the assessment criteria and access to treatments for many suffering with disordered eating.
Body Mass Index is a measure of standardised body weight that accounts for age, gender, height and weight. It is used to determine whether someone is healthy or unhealthy for their age and gender. However, it’s inaccuracies lie in the fact it has no reflection of where that weight is coming from (body fat/muscle mass), so many rugby players or bodybuilders are deemed ‘overweight’ by BMI although at peak physical fitness. This is important as it’s body fat that has the highest link with disease, such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, and not weight per-say.

When can using weight in the treatment of disordered eating be useful?

To fully heal something you need to understand it. Focusing on the weight restoration is the quick fix solution outlined by the medical model of recovery. Just like if you break an arm you wear a cast, or you have the flu so you rest in bed with antibiotics. If you look malnourished then it’s common sense to just re-feed them yes?
It is understandable, logical and fixable.

In mental health treatment there is so much grey area for what works best and for who and how long. It incorporates medical systems, family, friends, the society and individual environments to maintain and optimise health outcomes.

Do not get me wrong re-feeding is an important part of recovery. Low weight and starvation causes imbalances in hormones and brain functioning; further impacting impacts mood, thinking, anxiety levels etc…
It is necessary to correct these in order for therapy to be successful, and in some cases beginning therapy at a low weight will just have no use, because the individual will not be able to process the sessions or be fully present in them. BMI is often used as a measure to when a patient can begin gentle exercise without putting pressures on the heart, and damaging bone density.

The issue of weight in eating disorders

There are many different eating disorders, and the list is growing now, thought to coincide with the increase in social media diet trends such as “clean-eating”, “paleo”, “keto”, and the Westernised obsession with thinness, often associated with success and the beauty ideal.

Food is used as a form of communication, celebration, punishment and many other non-physiological uses that surpass the need to refuel, nourish and help our bodies perform.

The behaviours engaged in by disordered eaters (weight loss, exercise obsession; restriction etc…) are form of communication to the world that something is not right. It realityofEDvaries person to person why the the control of food and weight has manifested.

It can be a way to communicate feelings of self-doubt, self punishment, anxiety. Or to suppress difficult emotions or trauma that have left the individual feeling out of control.

It can take courage and bravery to step forward and admit there is a problem. The control and restriction is a blanket of comfort. Many fear losing it as it’s their way of getting through each day, and managing difficult thoughts and emotions.

Whilst weight loss is often achieved and maintained below the healthy level in anorexia, the diagnostic criteria varies hugely for various sub-types of anorexia, and is completely different for diagnosis of bulimia, binge eating disorder or orthorexia.
Each distinguishable by its behaviours and not the individuals weight.

They are all complex and multifaceted illness that cannot be constrained or measured by the weight or BMI of an individual.
Rather, a holistic approach needs to be given to the individual. Research points towards early intervention as giving the best prognosis, so it seems completely contradictory to leave it until he critical stages of physical and mental health to intervene.
A waste of money on the research if it’s not even going to be implemented in practice.

Your health should not, and is not, dependent on a number. Neither should your mental health be measured and confined to fit a stereotypical and superficial constraint.

When trying to rehabilitate someone who is so obsessed and controlled by numbers, that their whole world of self-worth revolves them, that they aren’t worthy of treatment simply reinforces everything they believe about themselves.
Whilst also demeaning the hard work it has taken for them to realise there is a problem that needs addressing.

  Why rejection based on weight be so damaging for eating disorders

Rejection from treatment increases self doubt, feelings of unworthiness, and can lead to more extreme dieting and restriction techniques. You have reinforced their anorexia saying they’re too “big”, and ignored their cry for help for the world of pain the eating disorder is causing.
Behaviours can reach a point where they are so reliant on them it is a compulsive obsession, and the longer the person is left the more risk they are in for further health complications, and at worst, death.

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental health illness and this is commonly due to suicide. 

Furthermore, abandonment by services when a “goal weight” has been reached has equally poor outcomes for the patient. The surface problem has been mended but you’ve left the inside still broken.  

For me, this just reflects a lack of training in the general practitioners and health care professionals in the area of mental health and treatment of eating disorders.

What’s it like to have anorexia and be a “normal weight”?

This is a picture of me in summer 2009, just after being discharged from my first inpatient unit where I’d received [very good] treatment [albeit not great therapy] Menorca'09 038for 8 months.
When I was discharged I was left without any help from CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health services) and although I look so happy and confident, on the inside I remember being so anxious, and had all the faulty thoughts of my anorexia whirling like a storm in my head that holiday.
I remember standing there hating every inch of my body in that photo. I was so unrestful, and unrelaxed on our lovely family holiday. I wanted to eat, to relax and enjoy myself but I just couldn’t hear my own thoughts in the whirlwind of my eating disorder.

The underlying psychological illness that remained was still destroying my life, and the lives of my family.

I was left vulnerable to relapse, with no understanding of how to cope and continue challenging my faulty thoughts and engrained coping mechanisms.
By the end of the summer I was back in another inpatient unit somewhere new. Somewhere far from home.

Having anorexia and having a normal body weight was hard work, and mentally tiring – no one realises you’re ill, no one thinks you need help, and you are more likely to be accused of attention seeking and not taken seriously.

It seemed so counterproductive for the NHS to spend SO much money on inpatient beds (we are talking 1000s of pounds) for them to touch on such a superficial part of recovery. The weight and food.

In Conclusion

The BMI debate continues…

Many are left denied treatment based on a number. But hopefully this post has opened your eyes to how unreliable that number is, and what a poor reflection it is of someones mental wellbeing.

Being denied access to treatment on the basis of BMI is a dangerous, and damaging, experience that can cause greater pain and suffering for all involved, as well as causing a greater expense to the NHS further down the line when more critical intervention is needed.

We need to deepen our understanding of mental health illnesses, and implement the research into medical practice that suggests early intervention has the best prognosis. This prevents individuals deteriorating to such as a critical stage, and can help save the health care system money in the long term.

BMI is a faulty key preventing many from opening the doors they need to health and freedom, and is an inaccurate portrayal of someones mental wellbeing.

I hope this has been insightful and thought provoking. Please do contact me or leave a comment if you have any more interest in this topic, or your own experiences to share. I am happy to say I am fully recovered and have been for many years now.
So have hope.