The new Galaxy Research study, which examines the attitudes of 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 eat, something common even among girls as young as 15,
- A third of teenagers and half of adults have dieted in the past year, and
- 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.
The research was commissioned by Hort Innovation as part of an innovative 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.
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 Dr McMillan.
“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 being healthy, 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.
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 Ms Leech.
“Through netball - the number one participation sport for girls and young women – we have the chance to reach out and inspire to 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.”
Download below your copy of Game On – a netball nutrition guide just for teens
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Chatting on the Today Show with Sylvia Jeffreys and Ben Fordham on foods and drinks that may help you to live a longer, healthier life.Watch