In a 'nutshell' what is Health At Every Size ®?
Health At Every Size HAES® is an approach to well-being that maintains that body weight is a poor determinant of health.
To achieve health, HAES® promotes the practice of behaviours that support health rather than idealising a standardised goal weight to be achieved by weight reduction strategies. At its core, HAES® is wise, holistic, humanistic, evidence based and is highly compatible with Attuned, Intuitive or Mindful Eating practices.
Tara has worked in the HAES® paradigm for more than a decade and is continually inspired by the positive effect that this has on her client's lives and sense of wellbeing.
What are the key principles of Health At Every Size ® ?
First, a little history as a good starting place. The Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH) produced these original principles of HAES® in 2003. These principles have been included on this page as they are a great introduction to HAES® for readers new to this approach:
- Accepting and respecting the diversity of body shapes and sizes.
- Recognizing that health and well-being are multi-dimensional and that they include physical, social, spiritual, occupational, emotional, and intellectual aspects.
- Promoting all aspects of health and well-being for people of all sizes.
- Promoting eating in a manner which balances individual nutritional needs, hunger, satiety, appetite, and pleasure.
- Promoting individually appropriate, enjoyable, life-enhancing physical activity, rather than exercise that is focused on a goal of weight loss
These principles were updated in 2014 to incorporate broader aspects of social justice and to appreciate the sociocultural and political determinants of health. For a more comprehensive appreciation of the current thinking in HAES® click here.
Why is Health at Every Size ® Important?
As dieting has become the cultural norm we have seen the incidence of eating disorders in the community increase at alarming rates. Whilst the development of disordered eating is complex and multi-factorial there is strong consensus amongst eating disorder professionals that the widespread use of dieting in the community is a causal part of this increasing trend.
HAES® is an extremely important foundational philosophy for the promotion of health that simultaneously works to prevent the development of disordered eating. In our current cultural climate steeped in the thin ideal, HAES® offers a much needed circuit breaker that promotes health without endorsing weight loss dieting.
The HAES® approach is especially vital for Dietitians who provide advice for clients with weight concern. The important influence of HAES® in ethical and evidence based Dietetic practice was recently acknowledged in the Journal of The American Dietetic Association:
“Risks for eating pathology increase with dietary changes and weight management efforts. ....To promote body acceptance and lessen the risk of disordered eating, [Dietitians'] messages should support health-centered behaviours, rather than weight-centered dieting”. J Am Diet Assoc. 2011;111:1236-1241.
If you are interested in reading more about HAES® visit healthateverysizeblog.org, this is a must-read, feel-good blog. This Blog receives monthly contributions from invited experts in health promotion and social justice, including Australia's own Dr Rick Kausman, author of If Not Dieting Then What?
Health At Every Size ® and HAES® are Registered Trademarks of ASDAH and are used with Permission