Developing Healthy Lifelong Food Habits

What would happen if we decided not to worry about our weight? Would this mean we would overeat and consequently gain weight? Does this mean we would be less healthy?

The definition of dieting is the practise of eating food in a regulated and supervised fashion to decrease, maintain, or increase body weight, or to prevent and treat diseases, such as diabetes. Diets have been around as early as the 1700’s and usually involve some kind of food restriction. But do diets work? The short answer is NO!!!

Australian’s are expected to spend $310 million on industry weight loss counselling services and related low-calorie foods and dietary supplements in 2018-19. Evidence shows that people will lose weight during the period of time they are on the diet but, within 2 years the majority of people have not only re-gained the weight they lost but have gained more weight with the diet-cycle starting again.

Diet culture is everywhere and often it is most prevalent during the holiday season. Food is a huge part of holiday celebrations. It can mean connecting with our own family by making a specific dish, or passing down traditions of our own. Food and family meals are so evocative. The smell of certain dishes. A taste that takes you straight back. Every single recipe has some sort of anecdote attached, an, ‘I remember when…’. If we allow ourselves to be consumed by diet culture, we run the risk of missing out on these meaningful moments around us, and of the pure joy in celebrating with others. We also, of course, may find ourselves with an unhealthy obsession.

So, what if we take a break away from diet culture and work towards mindfulness and moderation this holiday season? What if we move away from defining our worth according to our body shape, weight or appearance?

Here are some tips to help this holiday season:

  1. Accept your size. Love and appreciate the body you have. Self-acceptance empowers you to make positive changes.
  2. Trust yourself. We all have internal systems designed to keep us healthy – and at a healthy weight. Support your body in naturally finding its appropriate weight by honouring its signals of hunger, fullness, and appetite.
  3. Adopt healthy lifestyle habits. Develop and nurture connections with others and look for purpose in your life. Fulfilling your social, emotional, and spiritual needs restores food to its rightful place as a source of nourishment and pleasure.
  4. Find the joy in moving your body and becoming more physically vital.
  5. Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full, and seek out pleasurable and satisfying foods.
  6. Tailor your tastes so that you enjoy more nutritious foods while remaining mindful that there is plenty of room for less nutritious choices in the context of an overall healthy diet and lifestyle.
  7. Embrace size diversity. Humans come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Be open to the beauty found across the spectrum and support others in recognising their unique attractiveness.

Pro Nutrition SA, Kylie McKay, Dietitian


  • ‘Embracing Health at Every Size During the Holiday Season’; Eating Disorder Hope, Dec 5, 2016, cited at:
  • ‘Size, Diversity and Health at Every Size’; National Eating Disorders Australia (NEDA), 2018, cited at:
  • Wikipedia – ‘Dieting’: cited at:
  • Weight loss services – Australia Market Research report, Aug 2018; cited at:

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