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Australia: Linking healthy eating with feeling good

Levy-funded research insights are helping to understand how to improve the eating habits of Australian women and girls by tapping into their desire to feel good.   

Feeling good is more important than looking good for four out of five Australian girls and women, yet most still battle food guilt and diet hang-ups, according to new research.

A May 2017 Galaxy Research study, which examined the attitudes of 1,000 Australian girls and women (12-55 years) about food and being healthy, also found:
  • Feeling happier is the top motivator to achieve better health for girls and women.
  • 94 per cent of girls and women have felt guilty about food they have eaten – something that is common even among girls as young as 15.
  • A third of teenagers and half of adults have dieted in the past year.
  • Those who have recently dieted are twice as likely to have daily feelings of food guilt compared to those who have not dieted in the past year.

Feeling good is more important than looking good for four out of five Australian girls and women.

Aussie Apples supporting healthy habits
The research was commissioned by Hort Innovation as part of a partnership between Australian apple growers and Netball Australia. The partnership, which is one of Australia’s first major fruit or vegetable sports sponsorship, is dedicated to encouraging netballers and fans to enjoy wholesome foods and embrace healthy habits.

The Aussie Apples public relations program, which has been developed through the Netball Australia partnership, reinforces the benefits of eating wholesome foods, like apples, and building a positive relationship with food.

Aussie Apples dietitian Dr Joanna McMillan said it was fantastic to see that feeling good was more important to girls and women than looking good, but we needed to undo the negative mindset of fad diets and food guilt.

“We’ve got our health priorities right – it’s all about feeling better and being happier. We need to do all we can to encourage this positive, empowering attitude and a key part of that is to ditch the dieting,” said Joanna.

“The research reveals that by 15, girls are already feeling the same levels of food guilt as women twice their age.

“And when we look at girls and women who have recently dieted, we see higher levels of food guilt, sadness, self-criticism and regret – half of Australian girls and women shouldn’t be feeling this way.

“We need to forget fad diets, detoxes and any food trend that restricts what we eat or labels food as good or bad. Depriving ourselves of food doesn’t work, in fact it sets us up to fail.

“A healthy relationship with food is just as important as nutrition. It’s time to get back to basics and enjoy food that makes us feel happy and energised. For most

that’s eating a wide variety of whole foods every day and if you have a treat, I say savour every mouthful.”

To encourage positive online and social media conversations about healthy eating, Aussie Apples and Netball Australia have created a video that showcases Australian women, including Australian Diamonds netballers Caitlin Thwaites and Paige Hadley, opening up about their feelings on dieting, food guilt, health and being happy.

A netball nutrition guide for teens
Dr Joanna McMillan and Netball Australia sports dietitian Kerry Leech have also teamed up to create Game On – a netball nutrition guide just for teens. The guide is aimed at fostering a healthy attitude to enjoying wholesome foods and helping girls perform at their best on and off the court.

“The early to mid teen years are critical for establishing a healthy relationship with food,” said Kerry.

“Through netball – the number one participation sport for girls and young women – we have the chance to reach out and inspire almost a quarter of a million teenage girls.

“We need to make the most of this opportunity, empower girls and create a real understanding of how enjoying a wide range of wholesome foods can make you feel energised, healthier and happier.”

Game On – a netball nutrition guide just for teens was launched with an exclusive full page spread in the Herald Sun which, combined with an online link on the paper’s web page, reached an audience of 1.5 million. It is available for download from the Netball Australia website and will be shared through netball clubs around Australia.

Hort Innovation has also been sharing material with online magazines and radio and will be following up to secure additional coverage, including interviews for Joanna as the spokesperson. Joanna has similarly shared the material via her own social media channels and blog.

Game on: a netball nutrition guide just for teens.

For more information on the program or levy-funded R&D:
Mark Spees
Horticulture Innovation Australia Ltd
+61 0439 574 173

Publication date: 1/17/2018



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