So why HAES?
Health at Every Size is a non-weight focussed approach to health. It is founded on a large and constantly growing body of scientific evidence suggesting that weight is not really the problem, and that focussing on body weight, rather than health, can cause many, if not most, of the problems it is supposed to solve. Here are some key points:
- There are no known methods to successfully lose weight and keep it off long-term. Not diet. Not ‘lifestyle change’. Not even surgery. None.
- Dieting, especially yo-yo dieting, does enormous amounts of harm to your body and your health. Studies of entire populations show that in terms of your health, you’d be better of staying at a steady, heavier weight, than trying to get thinner.
- Feeling bad about your body has been shown to be damaging to both your physical and mental health, no matter what you weigh. Stress and stigma are strongly associated with conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes – all the things usually blamed upon being fat. Interestingly, in countries where being fat is considered desirable, the link between weight and health is much weaker.
- Thin is not necessarily healthy, and fat is not necessarily unhealthy. Fat people who engage in healthy habits have the same health outcomes as healthy living thin people. And they do much better than thin people with unhealthy habits.
- So whatever your weight is right now, there are things you can do to improve your health, happiness, and self-esteem, and none of them involve dieting.
What HAES isn’t
- This is not another weight loss by proxy ‘lifestyle change’. We’re not suggesting that if you change the way you think, you’ll suddenly become thin and your life will be perfect. In fact, there is no way of knowing what will happen to your weight once you start adopting a HAES approach. It depends mostly on your genes and your dieting history. And what’s more, it doesn’t matter.
- Another misconception is that a HAES approach is ANTI-weight loss. This isn’t the case. It is simply saying that based upon the best available evidence, weight loss should not be the goal of health improvement attempts. If you want to improve your health, adopt a healthy lifestyle and let your weight fall where it may. Stop trying to manipulate it – you won’t win.
- Some people also suggest it’s about ‘giving up’ and ‘letting yourself go’. I talked a bit about this on the home page. But seriously, there is nothing less like giving up on yourself than adopting a HAES lifestyle. Possibly for the first time in your life, you are genuinely caring for yourself, body and mind. And you will find it easier and more rewarding to take good care of yourself once you believe you are worth taking care of, when you stop believing that you are totally worthless, simply because of the number on the scales.
- One last thing to remember, is that adopting HAES is not a certificate of health either. Sadly, there is no guarantee that just because you eat well, exercise, and take care of yourself, you will enjoy perfect health and live forever. But you’re certainly stacking the odds in your favour.
Find out more about HAES
If you’re interested and want to learn a bit more about HAES, you could come on one of our workshops or check out some of the fantastic blogs and organisations listed on the Resources page. But if you haven’t read it yet, the book ‘Health At Every Size: the surprising truth about your weight’ by Dr Linda Bacon, is probably a good place to start. Just click on the pic of the book to check it out on Amazon.