If the ‘d’ word is the source of all your weight loss woes, we’ve got news for you. Out team of experts believe that small lifestyle changes can equal big results.

“Basically, any diet will help you to lose weight in the short term – the problem is very few of them work long term,” says practising dietitian and nutritionist Dr Joanna McMillan. “We return to our old habits and inevitably the weight returns, with interest.”

So, instead of quick-fix Hollywood-inspired meal-replacement plans and juice detoxes, take a long-term view.

“You must make permanent changes to your diet, your activity levels and other lifestyle factors,” Dr McMillan says.

“Then you will get long-term changes. I consider diet, activity levels, sleep, stress management, sedentary behaviours and having joy in your life all equally important for good weight management and optimal health and wellbeing.

“Don’t try to change everything at once, but work out which things will have the greatest impact. For some it might be cutting back on takeout food, for others soft drinks, for others portion size.”

How do to it:

Health and fitness coach Amelia Phillips recommends learning what constitutes a standard meal of 8700 kJ and taking a balanced approach to food.

“Any diet that eliminates whole food groups such as dairy, gluten, or carbohydrates (unless you have a proven allergy/intolerance) should be avoided,” she says.

“They are not sustainable, and even if you do lose weight initially, as soon as you return to your old way of eating, you will pile back on the kilos and often more.”

As a general rule, she says, one quarter of your (average-sized, not super-sized) plate should contain a protein-based food, one quarter should contain low-GI carbs, and half your plate should brim with salad or vegetables.

Meanwhile, Adelaide-based dietitian Tanya Lewis, who runs Life Personal Trainers, suggests researching the basic principles of popular diets then adopting the best bits of each to create your own ideal eating plan.

“All positive eating habits minimise processed foods and added sugars, and they all include plenty of vegetables,” she says.

“I challenge readers to look carefully at their own habits and choose one thing each month to change towards better heath – whether it be to eat less processed foods or eat more vegetables…let that healthy weight be a healthy bonus!”

NEXT: 6 fitness models reveal their diet secrets