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Health at Every Size!

Updated: Sep 30, 2022

Much like other areas of our modern world, there is a strong movement in the health and nutrition world. This movement is called "Health at Every Size" (HAES) approach.

Day 27: The straight talk about body image

The Health at Every Size movement started in 2003 by Linda Bacon; however, it has seen much momentum in more recent years as more and more clinicians, particular dietitians and personal trainers, adopt this unconventional approach to health and wellness. So what exactly is HAES? HAES was started within the mental health and eating disorder space based on the following principles:

  1. Accept your size. Love and appreciate the body that you have. Self-acceptance empowers you to move on and 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 honoring its signals of hunger, fullness, and appetite.

  3. Adopt healthy lifestyle habits. Develop and nurture connections with others and look for purpose and meaning in your life. Fulfilling your social, emotional, and spiritual needs restores food to its rightful place as a source of nourishment and pleasure.

  • Find the joy in moving your body and becoming more physically vital in your everyday life.

  • Eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full, and seek out pleasurable and satisfying foods.

  • Tailor your tastes so that you enjoy more nutritious foods, staying mindful that there is plenty of room for less nutritious choices in the context of an overall healthy diet and lifestyle.

4. Embrace size diversity. Humans come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Open to the beauty found across the spectrum and support others in recognizing their unique attractiveness.

There is much debate across multi-disciplinary teams regarding the HAES approach and the fact not every fat person has or will develop an eating disorder. While this is true, fat people have undoubtedly been categorized as undisciplined, lazy, and unattractive throughout history. This is seen in our medical system by clinicians praising their fat patients for weight loss regardless of how it was lost and advising weight loss regardless of health markers and only taken seriously if patients cross the line and become "too thin". Health behaviors like fasting for dangerous durations, partaking in detox challenges, taking diet pills, taking extreme measures like "shedding for weddings" are all culturally accepted as normal, so really, who's to say what the real statistic for eating disorders and disordered eating is?

Western doctors are starting to see the favorable effect that non-traditional approaches, like focusing on behaviors instead of strictly weight, are having on health. With the rise of eating disorders and, therefore, the awareness of risk factors like dieting, it only makes sense that times are changing - and in my opinion, for the better. The question is, are everyday consumers ready to change too and become the drivers of this change? I challenge you to think about the way you think of fat people and think about how many diets or weight loss strategies you've tried over the years. If that answer horrifies you, come on in and let's talk about it. Click on the link below and let's get started on better health in a healthy way.

Jen Pfeilfer, MS, APD

Dr. Thomas R. Schneider, Medical Director

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