Health at EVERY size
Striving for thinness, even if we knew how to successfully/ healthfully accomplish it, will not necessarily make us healthier or happier. The war on obesity has taken its toll. Extensive “collateral damage” has resulted: Food and body preoccupation, self-hatred, eating disorders, discrimination, poor health… Few of us are at peace with our bodies, whether because we’re fat or because we fear becoming fat.
Health at Every Size (HAES) is the new peace movement.
Very simply, it acknowledges that good health can best be realized independent from considerations of size. It supports people—of all sizes—in addressing health directly by adopting healthy behaviors.” -An excerpt from Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight by Linda Bacon, PhD.
Does size really matter?
There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding as to what this movement is. It is thought that HAES is endorsing a specific body type, more specifically a larger body size. However, it is simply advocating for all body sizes and shapes. And nutrition and exercise is important if you love your body. Also, if you have a chronic disease like diabetes or hypertension, or high cholesterol it is important to manage it.
Self-care is key for health at every size
What it is saying is that by LOVING yourself as you are now will you truly be able to take care of your body. Nourish your body. Move your body. And treat any medical conditions you have. This can can be a hard thought to swallow for many people.
It may have even been decades of hating your body and now I am telling you to turn that all around? There are many ways that your treatment team which may include a dietitian, therapist, psychiatrist or physician can help you with this task. This is a process that for many begins with learning how to simply live in your body, not hiding it, avoiding other people or situations because of it.
Your HAES journey may include
- starting by ending the bullying you do to yourself or to gradually start appreciating yourself in small ways.
- also be getting to a place of body neutrality first and slowly move towards positivity.
- We can help you get there.
- This does not mean that you are not dynamically changing and working on aspects of yourself or your health, but only that in order to move toward your health goals in a healthful manner it starts with loving the body you are in now.
Here are the main principles of HAES:
Accept and respect the inherent diversity of body shapes and sizes and reject the idealizing or pathologizing of specific weights.
Support health policies that improve and equalize access to information and services, and personal practices that improve human well-being, including attention to individual physical, economic, social, spiritual, emotional, and other needs.
Acknowledge our biases, and work to end weight discrimination, weight stigma, and weight bias. Provide information and services from an understanding that socio-economic status, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and other identities impact weight stigma, and support environments that address these inequities.
Eating for Well-being:
Promote flexible, individualized eating based on hunger, satiety, nutritional needs, and pleasure, rather than any externally regulated eating plan focused on weight control.
Support physical activities that allow people of all sizes, abilities, and interests to engage in enjoyable movement, to the degree that they choose.
Weight does not = Health
If we are constantly using weight and the scale as a measure of health, beauty, or happiness we are missing out on so much. A weight does not tell me if you are getting in at least 5 or more servings of vegetables and fruits in a day. It does not tell me if you are eating whole grains or lean meats. It does not tell me if you are viewing food in a healthful way or if you are spending too much time and energy obsessing about calories and weight. These are the nutrition goals that bring us relief from diseases and lower our risk factors. Alas, enter the DIET. Diets seem to be a form of self torture that is widely accepted and almost expected.
But diets don’t work…
However with 95% of diets actually leading to weight gain it is a mystery how the allure of dieting stays so strong. Diets teach us to view our body numerically- waist size, weight, fat percentage, calorie intake. Not qualitatively- what, when, how, why we are eating. Diets tend to bring us further away from body acceptance and replace motivational self talk with diet mentality “I shouldn’t eat that”.
Diets never start with a positive attitude, they only stem from negative self-confidence or low self-image that continues to grow as you enter a restrictive lifestyle. You never wake up thinking “I feel amazing today, I will go on a diet”. It usually starts with a photo that makes you look a certain way or a comment taken to heart that drives you to start the diet. During the diet being deprived of your favorite foods or sufficient energy or nutrition continues to wear on your mental health and body image lending a hand to this cycle that is hard to free yourself from.
Focus on health and nutrition, not the scale or size
Nutrition is one of the basic needs we have as humans. Practicing healthful nutrition is one of the ways we take care of ourselves. Accepting yourself and all you bring to the table will help you to find yourself worthy of that self care that will bring you closer to your health goals.
Need more guidance? Take a look at our NOURISHED: 10 Ingredients to Happy Healthy Eating, co-authored by Dana Magee.
What is a HAES Dietitian?
To learn more about HAES, take a look at this blog about What is a HAES Dietitian.
If you would make an appointment with a dietitian to REBEL against dieting and learn how to embrace your body and be healthy at every size, call us at 301-474-2499.
Blog reviewed and updated: May 2020
Dana uses her advanced training in functional nutrition and food sensitivities to help her clients love and trust food again as they heal from years of painful symptoms that have dominated their lives. Co-author of Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating and Cooking with Food Sensitivities Survival Guide.