Health at Every Size
Health at Every Size (HAES) is a concept that allows for people to move away from a diet mentality and fixating on a number on a scale to truly being in tune with their body and understanding that weight is not correlated with health. Dr. Linda Bacon published a book titled Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight in which she discusses this concept and studies she conducted about it.
The book is divided into two parts, the first is about deconstructing weight and the diet mentality, while also understanding the physiology of weight and our natural body response. The second part is about HAES and techniques and activities to help the reader become an intuitive eater and apply what is discussed in part one.
Part one goes over why our bodies resist weight loss, and why we keep bouncing back. Our bodies naturally are made to keep us alive, for survival. When we go on a ‘diet’, our body thinks it is starving, and will store any food we take in to keep us alive. When foods that were restricted are reintroduced back into our diets, our body will go back to its normal weight. The reason it is difficult to keep off weight is because each of our bodies has its own setpoint weight. Our weight may fluctuate around this weight, but generally our bodies like to stay around our setpoint weight. Each person’s setpoint weight is different. Just like we cannot expect everyone to have the same height or shoe size, we cannot all have the same setpoint weight.
Part two goes into the different aspects and elements of HAES. These include respecting body and soul, taking care of hunger, living well, changing tastes, and solving the weight “problem”. Dr. Linda Bacon goes into the study she conducted with two groups of women, one of which followed an assigned diet, and one that followed the HAES philosophy. Not only were health outcomes better for the latter group, they also felt better about themselves. They learned to understand their bodies and listen to their hunger and satiety signals. The rest of part two describes how to practice the HAES philosophy. Respecting your body and yourself is an important part to feeling better about yourself. Taking care of hunger allows you to understand hunger and fullness while also satisfying your desires.
Health at Every Size is a different approach to living a healthy life, no matter weight or size. It is understanding we all have different body types and there is no one size fits all. It is learning to be in-tune with your body and understanding its needs and satisfying them.
Written by Dietetic Intern Fatima Abdelhafeez