Health at Every Size: Why It’s Not Anti-Health

March 12, 2020

 

Health at Every Size, aka HAES® is a compassionate and ethical model for thinking about health.  Traditionally health has been something we are told we should want, and there is often a big focus around body size.  The idea has been that if you are smaller you are healthier.  The HAES model reminds us there is way more to health than the size of our bodies.  It is also backed by research and has its’ own set of principles.

 

What HAES® IS (the principles):

What HAES® IS NOT:

 

Is about being weight inclusive: encourages body acceptance and diversity of body shapes and sizes.

Saying you can eat whatever in total disregard of how it makes you feel physically in your body.

 

Focused on health enhancement: Supports health policies that improve access to health.

Encouraging sedentary lifestyles that don’t include movement or activities that are health promoting or help with mobility and strength.

 

Including respectful care: Acknowledge our biases, and work to end weight discrimination, weight stigma, and weight bias.

It is not “Healthy” at every size. It is not saying everyone is healthy.  It is focusing on other factors that are separate from body size.

Promotes eating for well-being: flexible, individualized eating, rather than externally regulated eating plan focused on weight control.

It is not encouraging diets that don’t include nourishing foods or variety. 

Encourages joyful movement: Support physical activities that allow people of all sizes, abilities, and interests to engage in enjoyable movement.

 

It is not telling people to disregard their mental or spiritual health.

 

 

HAES® says those in larger bodies are allowed to move and eat healthy, not because they need to lose weight, but for their overall well-being.  Because nourishing foods taste good and bodies were meant to move.  It takes measuring weight and dieting out of the equation and says “you know your body best, try listening to it.”  We could all eat the same and exercise the same way and we would still look different and have different body sizes.  Ultimately it is likely we are not afraid of being unhealthy, we are afraid of being treated poorly because we are in a larger body. That is weight discrimination and that is what HAES® is fighting against.

HAES® is about respecting diversity!