A picture shared on my Instagram feed – or more precisely the caption – stopped me in my tracks. It was Izzy Judd – wife of Harry Judd, former winner of Strictly and drummer with pop band McFly.

Izzy is a social media influencer and author. She was wearing a bikini, and her incredible abs were on full display as she clutched a baby.

Her words, shared with her 300,000 followers, offered a glimpse of her struggle with disordered eating – a subject I’ve long been willing celebrity mothers to come clean about.

At the time the picture was taken – in 2018, and after the birth of her second child, Kit – Izzy was battling an ‘unhealthy obsession with losing weight’. She said, “I was severely undernourished. I exercised obsessively. I ran on adrenaline. And looked after two children under two.”

A picture shared on my Instagram feed – or more precisely the caption – stopped me in my tracks. It was social-media influencer Izzy Judd, dressed in a bikini and had her killer abs on display while clutching a baby

A picture shared on my Instagram feed – or more precisely the caption – stopped me in my tracks. It was social-media influencer Izzy Judd, dressed in a bikini and had her killer abs on display while clutching a baby

It was most surprising to learn that her behaviours had impacted her fertility. This led her to go three years without having menstrual cycles. Her ability and capacity for conception were affected. This predicament was obvious to me immediately.

It was reported by The Mail on Sunday last year. Experts accused celebrity moms, well-known for their strict diet and exercising regimen, of pushing unrealistic images of fertile bodies while failing to disclose their fertility treatments.

Drs warned that young women are not aware of the negative effects of extreme lifestyles on fertility. Fad dieting, and having little body fat, can affect the balance of sex hormones needed for regular menstrual cycles, including periods – and conception.

Izzy’s post struck a chord for me because it also addressed a personal struggle. Anorexia is the most severe eating disorder. I suffered it in my 20s.

In an effort to achieve the toned bodies of Instagram influencers, my illness was caused by an unhealthy obsession with Instagram diets. Six years later and a total physical recovery, I was still experiencing periods.

They were able to return at the beginning this year. Doctors I spoke to said that my reproductive hormones were still dysfunctional. When the time arrives, it is possible that I’ll struggle to conceive.

Experts say this problem has become more severe than ever because few women are aware of long-term consequences of following fad diets.

“This is one the most common cases I see,” says Dr Lisa Webber, consultant gynaecologist at St Mary’s Hospital, London.

The numbers are growing, according to anecdotally. Many women will be referred to IVF by gynaecologists that don’t fully understand their problem. Many people believe they are good for their reproductive health. But I can’t tell them.

Dr. Nicola Rinaldi is a hormone specialist who manages a 6,000 strong Facebook group for women with fertility issues resulting from diet. She says: “I have had large numbers access our help in the last five years.

At the time the picture was taken – in 2018, and after the birth of her second child, Kit – Izzy, wife of Harry Judd, former winner of Strictly and drummer with pop band McFly, was battling an 'unhealthy obsession with losing weight'

At the time the picture was taken – in 2018, and after the birth of her second child, Kit – Izzy, wife of Harry Judd, former winner of Strictly and drummer with pop band McFly, was battling an ‘unhealthy obsession with losing weight’

“Under-eating, overexercising, and other factors can affect every stage of a woman’s month. It is possible that they will not realize there is a problem until it becomes a challenge when they attempt to conceive.

I thought this was a good idea. Turns out, I was correct.

Speaking to The Mail on Sunday, she revealed details of her struggle with tyrannical eating disorders – including orthorexia, an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating – which she believes may be partly to blame for five years of on-and-off fertility struggles.


According to an American study, more than 25% of fertility patients have had a history with eating disorders.

She is now 37 and on track to recover from the “clean eating” fad. However, she still experiences the consequences, such as early-onset osteoporosis, an ‘exaggerated’ relationship with food, and other health issues.

“It was an obsession about everything I was putting into my body,” she said. All had to be clean and healthy.

“It was like the domino effect. After I had eliminated one food from my diet, it was no longer “healthy”. I would then move onto the next, and so on until I was only left with fruits and vegetables.

‘If I stayed at home, I’d cook my own meals and stay away from friends’ houses. High-intensity exercises were something I did four to five times a week. My body was not able to handle the extra work, so my periods were cut short.

“It is not surprising that my body wasn’t fertile.” However, I did not join the dots at that time.

Hypothalamic amenorrhea is a condition where there are no periods missed without any underlying disorders. It affects three percent of women between the ages of 17 and 44.

Problem lies in a disturbance of signals from the hypothalamus, located at the center of the brain and responsible for menstrual cycles.

In healthy women, the brain sends signals to the ovaries, instructing them to grow follicles which house an egg, – and, ultimately, triggers the surge of hormones that causes the egg to be released.

If an egg is not fertilised, another surge of hormones spark the shedding of the womb lining – a period. Hypothalamic amenorrhea disrupts this delicate chain of hormonal signals.

Dr Webber states that the hypothalamus responds to external changes like stress, weight change, and other factors. Dr Webber says that women have to attain a certain level of body fat before the hypothalamus can release eggs.

Some experts believe that the only thing necessary to break this system is a slight weight loss.

Webber states that it’s not only people suffering from anorexia, who have lost their period due to overexercising or not eating enough. ‘Most women I see aren’t underweight. Some people have genetic makeup that requires more fat than others.

Dr Webber adds that the hypothalamus is also sensitive to ‘any external stress’ – either via a lack of adequate nutrition, too much exercise or psychological stress.

“Studies have shown that periods can be stopped if there are too many carbohydrates. It is an evolutionary tool that ensures there is sufficient energy for a healthy pregnancy.

Izzy was a long-time ‘healthy eater’ but her eating habits changed after Kit’s birth in August 2017. She says she felt out of control and that life had become chaotic.

“In hindsight there were warning signs as I had always been anxious about my eating habits, particularly when I tried to get pregnant for the first time,” says Izzy. She is naturally slim at 10-12 inches.

“But after having Kit, things got out of control. I had two small children and was trying to juggle full-time work and writing a book – everything felt all over the place and food was something I could control.

“First I stopped eating meat, because it was something I had done when I was pregnant. I decided I could not eat it. Next, I began to skip breakfast as I ran to the nursery to pick up my children.

I said, “But then I’d go to lunchtime, get up and exercise. I realized I hadn’t eaten since that evening and it was quite euphoric.” This became part my stress management strategy after some time.

Izzy was soon consumed by thoughts about what foods were best for her health.


One jogger in every ten shows signs of exercise addiction – especially those who are anxious or lonely, say Hungarian researchers. 

“When something related to healthy eating appeared on my social media, I would attach myself and think about it. Suddenly, everything I was seeing on social media was about what to eat – like when you’re getting a certain type of new car and overnight you start seeing that car all over the place.

‘For lunch I’d eat a few rice cakes with a bit of avocado, and dinner was soup or a salad – but I had to have exactly the same ingredients every night. Everything had to be fresh and simple.

“It was like I couldn’t have it because it wasn’t clean.” You’ll soon realize that you have very little.

This characteristic is associated with Izzy’s eating disorder, Orthorexia. It is an obsession with eating ‘correctly’ and experts warn that it is increasingly affecting young children.

The disease affects one-seventh of the world’s population. It has been linked to rising numbers of fitness and health influencers who post bogus diet advice via social media.

Many sufferers lose weight, but not all. Izzy was down to 6 inches in 18 months. According to her, ‘It was lots of exercise. An empty stomach would mean that I had to walk for about an hour from my home to the nursery. Then, I’d go to a vigorous exercise class for one hour. It was four to five times a week.

Dr Rinaldi claims that 50% of women who are engaged in intense exercise will not release eggs for fertilization.

Harry, Harry’s husband, simply “got used” to the rigidity of her routine.

‘I was still eating – I was just very strict about what I did and didn’t eat. You can see that I wasn’t too thin. It just seemed like I was in great shape. The outside was fine.

The clean eating trend – foods without any artificial ingredients – disguised her disordered habits when eating out with friends. Vegan cookbooks were everywhere on social media. So I embraced the trend to be extremely health conscious.

Izzy had no periods for the past three years. ‘I didn’t think to join the dots – I had no idea my “healthy” diet and exercise routine could affect my fertility,’ she says. “My past periods were irregular so I thought it was the same.

Izzy was not the only one to experience missing periods. Harry was also a patient. They tried to get pregnant together for 2 years in 2016. Izzy had sporadic periods and they turned to IVF.

At the time, doctors blamed the problem on polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS – a diagnosis that Izzy has always doubted.

She says that hypothalamic amenorrhea is the main reason it didn’t work.

“It may have begun as anxiety as I was concerned about my chances of getting pregnant. However, soon enough I was obsessed about the food we should eat in order to get pregnant. Every book I studied recommended I eliminate dairy or gluten. I followed my advice.

“And I thought that if I did a lot of exercise it could fix my problem.”

Izzy relaxed unusually with the self-imposed rules about her health when the couple had a second child, but without any fertility treatment.

‘I was too busy recovering from my birth to think about food. I also had a newborn and a year old. For the first time ever, I had consecutive periods. In that same month I became pregnant.

Experts agree that it is not unusual for hypothalamic amenorrhea sufferers to mistakenly be diagnosed with PCOS.

Renee McGregor, an orthorexia- and eating disorder specialist, says, “I see it all the time.”

Hypothalamic amenorrhea may mimic symptoms. Patients will experience a return of their period when they eat properly and other symptoms that are similar to PCOS, like underdeveloped follicles or ovaries.

“That is why doctors must ask their patients about their exercise and diet habits before they can diagnose them.

Izzy was diagnosed with osteopenia in late 2018. The early stages of osteoporosis were diagnosed in her.

The growth of bone cells is dependent on hormones that are released in normal periods, like oestrogen.

“None of my doctors inquired about the food I was eating or how hard I exercise,” she said. “I didn’t think there was any connection between the two.”

Izzy was further affected by Covid’s death in spring last year. She says, “I was trapped inside without a gym and all I could do was focus on what I was eating.”

“I had to explain why I was not eating lunch with Lola. We celebrated Kit’s Birthday in August. Then I baked this delicious cake, which everyone loved. I was the only one who didn’t have a slice – I felt I couldn’t.’

Izzy ran into an acquaintance at the close of last year. She shared with me her difficulties in conceiving due to hypothalamic amenorrhea. After her friend gave up dieting, she experienced her period again and fell pregnant.

“I thought, Oh my God, this is me,” says Izzy.

‘Everything clicked. I read the chapters of Harry and bought a book on hypothalamic amenorrhea. My obsessive food thoughts started me talking to others. All of them said that they had heard about my problem and were eager to help me.

Although Izzy never went to the GP for a formal diagnosis, she saw a private therapist who offered cognitive behavioural therapy – the gold-standard therapy for eating disorders. According to her, “Once the support was given, I decided that I wanted my periods back.”

A third child for the couple was an important motivating factor. Izzy gave her husband the task of cooking every meal.

I said that I didn’t care if it had any sugar. Don’t be rude to me.

“I quit all my exercise and started eating breakfast, such as porridge and granola.

Izzy went through a period after four months. ‘I started feeling things I hadn’t felt for years – I knew my body was working again.’

One month later, the couple was able to conceive naturally. In September, Lockie was born.

Izzy states that this was the hardest thing she has ever done. Lockie is a blessing – he’s a reminder of my huge achievement and the fact I fought one of my biggest battles to have him.’

Izzy is one such lucky person. It is not easy to regain a normal menstrual cycle when you have been without it for so many years. My period is irregular and I have periods. I weigh a healthy amount. Gynaecologists say I probably don’t ovulate.

My doctor told me that I needed fertility drugs in order to induce ovulation if I was to become pregnant. IVF will be used if they do not work.

Research shows that as many as a third (33%) of hypothalamic women suffering from diet-related amenorrhea have difficulty getting their period back.

Dr Webber states that for some it can take as long as 15 months before their cycles return to normal. Ovulations also may not occur regularly for others.

“For some, an extra hour of walking per day is all they need to balance their cycle and stop it from continuing. They could also be able to come back by skipping weekly classes or eating an additional portion of icecream.

“But doctors must talk to women about how they live, and not just rely on drugs.

If you have been affected by the issues here, contact Beat, the UK’s eating disorder charity, at beateatingdisorders.org.uk.

COVID Q&A: Will we follow Europe with a lockdown, and is booster doing its job?

Q: How come certain European countries have gone into lockdown and what can we do to follow their lead?

A: Some countries are taking drastic measures as covid infections rates continue to rise in Europe. Austria tomorrow begins a ten-day lockdown, which could be extended if infections don’t start to fall. Unvaccinated persons were already subject to a country-wide lockdown. Starting in February, it will become a mandatory requirement that all Covid jab-eligible residents get the vaccine.

Germany and Greece hint at tighter measures in the meantime, even as rates climb.

Austria’s infection rate had soared to 971 per 100,000 people. The UK’s rate is now about 350.

Experts believe that low vaccination uptake is the key reason for this spike in Austrian and other countries. Only 66% of Austrians had received at least two vaccines. This is one of the lowest levels in Europe. In the UK it’s about 80 per cent.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has refused to rule out another lockdown here, but it’s likely the Government would first implement some of its Plan B measures, such as compulsory mask-wearing on public transport and in shops, banning those without a Covid vaccine pass from certain crowded venues, and encouraging more people to work from home again.

Mr Johnson also warned that Europe’s ‘storm of infection’ could cause cases to shoot up in the UK.

Many scientists believe Europe is suffering the same surge as the UK last month.

Q: How has our booster campaign affected the infection rate?

A: A new study from Imperial College London has shown that two extra jabs can reduce the chance of contracting the virus by up to two-thirds, as opposed to just one jab. After the boosters, 8,000 participants were tested and found that only 0.3% contracted the disease.

An additional analysis from the Office for National Statistics revealed that patients who were triple jabbed are 80 percent less likely to contract Covid than those with no jabs. Experts think this is the main reason why infection rates are declining in the UK.

Some experts have warned that it is vital to speed up the UK’s booster campaign to keep Covid rates in check over winter.

More than 14 million Britons have now had their top-up jab – 24 per cent of those who need it.