When you’re a woman in the public eye, everyone wants to know ‘how you stay so trim’.
But it’s a catch 22, as radio presenter Jackie ‘O’ Henderson found out this week, because sometimes the only way to maintain the unrealistic physical standards society holds women to is to take drastic (and dangerous) methods.
On Monday, the KIIS FM presenter gave Kyle and Jackie O listeners an insight into her ‘day on a plate’ – no breakfast, an avocado for lunch and chicken and vegies for dinner.
The backlash from dietitians, nutritionists and mental health experts was swift.
The Butterfly Foundation ambassador Mia Findlay went as far as to label the mother-of-one’s eating habits as a “starvation diet”, the Daily Telegraph reports.
Addressing the ‘off-the-cuff’ comments on Tuesday morning’s show, 43-year-old Jackie O said she realised she failed to provide enough context around how that particular ‘day on a plate’ fits in with her overall diet.
“No, I don’t have breakfast… what I should’ve clarified is whilst I’m [eating that way] on some days, I don’t eat that every single day. I still allow myself all the things I want, but on some days during the week, I eat less. I do believe that, on the days I eat less, I feel better about myself, I feel healthier,” she said.
“Saying I’m starving myself is so incorrect and so not the message I want to send out there… I’m not starving myself, and I would never, ever endorse that. I don’t want anyone out there starving themselves to lose weight.”
Dietitian Jessica Spendlove from Health and Performance Collective told Mamamia Jackie O’s diet, in conjunction with her additional explanation, sounds like a mixture of two popular styles of eating – intermittent fasting (5:2) and ketogenic (keto).
“Short term you would expect to lose weight eating like this due to the energy restriction, but I am not sure how sustainable eating like this is,” she said.
“It obviously is restrictive and excludes a number of essential foods and food groups like fruit and wholegrains, which are both great sources of fibre, and dairy. Eating such a limited range of foods can also disrupt the gut microbiome, or your gut health, which is a big interest area at the moment.”
Spendlove also explained that while the 5:2 diet is an effective way to lose weight, it needs to be done in the correct way as advised by a nutritionist or dietitian.
“When it comes to fasting, I wouldn’t often suggest it is done daily, but more one to three times per week and not on consecutive days, depending on the person and their goals. On the non-fasted days, it’s important to still make sure your intake consists of wholegrains, fruits plenty of vegetables, dairy if you eat it, and lean protein,” she said.
“I don’t recommend skipping breakfast every day either. Occasionally, skipping breakfast is not an issue, but routinely doing it every day like Jackie O may result in the slowing of the metabolism or not meeting nutritional requirements.
“[Also] this kind of eat is not appropriate for everyone. If there is a history of poor eating behaviours or any form of disordered eating it would not be recommended, there may also be some medical conditions for which this diet is not recommended.”
For The Butterfly Foundation’s CEO Christine Morgan, the damage from Jackie O’s casual conversation about weight loss and dieting – without added context or clarification – is already done.
“The main concern I have is the example [her comments] set for so many people who would be fans of or followers of Jackie O because, she may make a choice about what she eats and doesn’t eat, but it’s very unhealthy – that small amount of food is not healthy for anybody. I would hate to think that anyone who is a fan of hers, who has thought they would also like to lose some weight thinks, would think that would be a good way to do it,” she told Mamamia.
“I was actually quite horrified because I thought, with that sort of following you have, Jackie, it’s not responsible [to make those comments]. If you have a genetic vulnerability to an eating disorder, which is a horrific neuro-psychiatric disorder, then we know restrictive eating is a key trigger for that illness, once you trigger it, you can’t just turn it off.”
Australian singer Kasey Chambers spoke to Mia Freedman about her experience with an eating disorder below. Post continues after video.
Morgan also said while she believes any kind of calorie restriction diet is “questionable”, it should be done under the guidance of health professionals.
“If you are changing the way in which you eat in such a radical way, then in my perspective, it needs to be done under medical guidance – get the advice from professionals, not from Instagram, about what is so called ‘healthy’.”
“If you have a public profile, please be particularly careful about the messages that you’re giving to someone. You may not intend to – I’m sure that Jackie O would not want anybody to starve themselves – but your followers will hear what you’re saying, look at what you’re doing and probably copy what you’re doing.”
In response to the controversy surrounding Jackie O’s comments, a KIIS spokesperson also told Mamamia:
“On air this morning on The Kyle & Jackie O Show, Jackie clarified that she is absolutely not on a “starvation diet” as some media suggested, and she explained that she has a varied diet. She also explained that her 10kg weight loss has been gradual over the course of 12 months. She also made the point that, at this time last year, she felt “sluggish” and without energy and the changes she has made over the past 12 months has improved how she feels.”
Everyone’s body is different. We all have our own body issues, lifestyles, and ideas when it comes to the food we eat.
And as Jackie O explained, this style of eating is what works for her, and without context or insight, no one is to know all the many other things she might put in her mouth or do to her body everyday.
But when it comes down to it, that right there is the reason why Jackie O’s comments should’ve never gone to air.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder or body image, please seek professional help and call The Butterfly Foundation’s national support line on 1800 33 4673 or email [email protected] If you are in immediate danger, call 000.
Are you influenced by celebrities’ diet tips or ‘day on a plate’ stories? Would you try a particular diet because someone in the public eye recommended it?