Former model turned bulimia recovery coach talks about her turnaround
After struggling to avert your eye from the confectionery stand, your gaze takes you to the magazine rack as you wait in the queue of any newsagents worth its salt.
There you see glossy publications titled: “Lose four pounds in four days”, “Look inside for this summer’s best diet” and so on.
Do you reach for the magazine offering to give you that celestial summer body or shun the advice and reach for the chocolate?
It is one of life’s quandaries and it is an issue Julie Kerr is keen to tackle.
“I coach people recovering from eating disorders and one of the biggest triggers of this is dieting, particularly when people go on these crazy fad diets,” she says.
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“So this year as usual magazines and TV programmes encourage people who do not even need to go on diets to do exactly that. Dieting is inherently flawed.”
Kerr, a former model, toiled with bulimia for more than 17 years after an off-hand remark from her agent - telling her to lose weight - made her decide to take up a 500 calorie-a-day regime.
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Consequently she would refuse to travel anywhere where she was not certain of fulfilling this rather unfulfilling goal.
“I wasted years of my life caught up in an eating disorder,” adds the West Hampstead resident.
“I travelled a lot with my modelling but I would not go to the Andes, for instance, because I couldn’t be sure about what food what I would be getting.
“The pressures from the industry kicked it off; I was told to lose weight and I thought I’ll just go on a diet – so I cut back to 500 calories-a-day which is quite weird because people are doing that now.”
Thirty years ago, when Kerr, 57, began to be obsessed by this food obsession, it was just “ballerinas and some actresses” who dieted, she says.
Today, she adds: “Everyone thinks they should look a certain way which has been prescribed to them by the media.
“Young kids can’t even develop a bit of puppy fat without someone freaking out.
“We should not be doing that to children because their brains have not even formed properly. You can’t starve people and kids of nutrition.”
Last year, Kerr published “Are Your Dieting Strategies Killing YOU?” – a free “easily digestible” report, designed to cater for a market that demands “short and sharp”.
Just 27 pages, it is easy to see why Kerr is keen to refer to the publication as a report rather than an e-book, which is what it is being marketed as.
The purpose, though, is raise awareness - not to make any financial gain.
In addition to writing, Kerr coaches up to 15 clients from across the world as part of her Bulimia Free programme on Skype.
She attributes her turn around to a chance meeting with a former amateur body builder in a Parisian gym 13 years ago.
She was so struck by this unnamed gym-goer’s physique she began to ask questions of her.
“She told me she ate six times a day and I thought “Oh my god, what are you eating?” And she was eating proper food,” reveals Kerr. “She was eating more in a day then what I would have been eating in a week.
“She was eating a little and often, I was shocked.”
The next day Kerr ate breakfast for the first time in a decade. “Normally, I would just have a coffee,” she says. “I was basically trying not to eat the whole time.
“I had forgotten that I was dieting – it had become such a lifestyle.”
The now-reformed coach says the impact of constant dieting affects not just you, but all those around you too – friends, family even your children. She explains: “It impacts on your families and yourself because you feel like a failure.
“Mothers can be distracted and become too fixated on food, on their state and shape. They then pass it on to their children. It is difficult to know where reality is - what is the normal acceptable way?”
To book a session with Julie Kerr, email Julie@bulimiafree.com or call 07798 842 054.