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I want to start by saying if you’ve heard of the Health at Every Size approach and want to trust it, but have emotional reservations holding you back… I get it. The idea that we can be healthy and even happy at any body size goes against the world’s culture right now, and it can be a scary leap to take. But I hope this blog post helps walk you through why you don’t have to try to control your body size to be healthy, and provides some peace for you. For actionable ways to accept your body size, scroll down to the video at the bottom of the post.
WHAT IS HEALTH AT EVERY SIZE?
HAES is a philosophy that focuses on health outside of weight, based on the evidence that we don’t need to be lighter to be healthy. Research shows that focusing on behaviors provides much better outcomes than an approach focused on weight loss. And what’s more, weight that’s lost in the short term is regained in the long term – meaning our current approach to health keeps us running around in circles.
“It is only the rate of weight regain, not the fact of weight regain, that appears open to debate” (source)
Instead of the traditional weight loss approach, Health at Every Size encourages:
- Accepting and respecting the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes
- Eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite
- Finding the joy in moving one’s body and becoming more physically vital (source)
HAES DOESN’T MEAN YOU DON’T CARE
One common misconception about HAES that I hear is that by embracing HAES, you “don’t care about your body” or aren’t pursuing health. I find those kinds of statements so ironic, because by learning about how your body works and why weight loss is a bad approach, you actually set yourself up for greater success in improving lab values, respecting your body, and finding a sustainable version of health that works for you.
SIZE ACCEPTANCE IS THE FOUNDATION OF TRUE HEALTH
In the graphic above, HAES is shown as the umbrella/overarching theme of other concepts like intuitive eating and joyful movement. This is because a neutral attitude towards weight is necessary to develop before you can work on those other things. Intuitive eating with the intention of weight loss is still a diet, which sets IE up to fail you. Attempting to lose weight creates stress and stigma around daily decisions like what to eat or if/how to move, which can actually affect your digestive health as well. Taking steps towards size acceptance and learning about the science behind HAES allows you to freely and truly practice intuitive eating, which will allow your body to find its natural weight and help your health so much more than a diet ever could.
GRACE-FULL SIZE ACCEPTANCE: WATCH THE VIDEO
On January 27, I hosted a free webinar called “Grace-Full Size Acceptance” all about the science behind HAES! It included three actionable ways to begin to accept your body + a workbook (linked in the show notes). If you’re looking to dig deeper into why HAES works, I highly recommend setting aside 25 or so minutes to watch this!
HAES RECOMMENDED READS
If you’re looking to really dive into the science behind HAES, I highly recommend picking up the books below. They’re extremely well-written with tons of sources, and help debunk common myths around weight.
HAES IN THE WILD
Unfortunately, even after we embrace our natural body size because we know that science supports HAES, we still have to encounter weight loss talk in media and out in the world. You have choices when it comes to these situations – and there’s resources to help you. This blog post is awesome for preparing for a doctor’s appointment, and you can read more about arming yourself against diet culture here. Looking for a safe, positive environment to discuss HAES, intuitive eating, and how you can use it in your life? Join us in the Abundantly Enough Facebook group!
Read Amy Shen’s HAES post here.
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