What is “HAES”?


I have a few simple questions to ask before I explain what HAES is:

1. How many people have you known who have “gone on a diet” specifically to lose weight?

2. Have you ever known someone who has gone on a diet and who has lost weight and kept it off? I am not talking about the person who took up a sport or quit smoking and adopted a healthier life style. I am talking about someone who followed a specific “diet plan” such as a low carb diet or meal replacement diet or counting calories or points kind of diet.

3. Have scientists discovered the one diet that works to help people lose weight and keep it off? Of course we know researchers have been looking into this, since people have been struggling with trying to lose weight for a long time. The “obesity epidemic”is always in the news. So have they found the one diet that works?

Not sure of your answer for question #1, but for #2, I am guessing the answer is NO, and for question #3, I will tell you the answer is NO. What most of the public does not know (because who would be interested in the research over the years regarding dieting except someone like a dietitian?) is that many researchers have been looking into dieting behavior for decades. In fact, when I went back to graduate school and did my research on “cognitive restraint” back in the ’90’s, I was angry! I could not believe the world did not know that the “experts” already knew many of the reasons dieting did not work! But then I realized, it is about the diet industry combined with desperate people wanting to lose weight.

I was not the only one who was angry. There now exists a split among health professionals working with people with weight issues (actually, the split has been there for many years but only recently gaining attention). Thanks to the more recent research and new groundbreaking books (see below) by Dr. Linda Bacon, the “Health at Every Size” Movement  has now been brought into the public eye and the movement is gaining momentum.. Those of us who believe in promoting health instead of some perfect weight, are no longer alone. Yes, there are still doctors, nurses and dietitians who will put someone on a diet (boy could I tell you some horror stories). So it is important to ask any professional you are working with which side of the fence they are on. Are they familiar with the HAES Approach? If not, they may be a bit behind the times. Or, they may still be influenced by a society who values a certain physical appearance instead of health.

Here is an excerpt taken the HAES website at http://www.haescommunity.org/  :

“Health at Every Size” is based on the simple premise that the best way to improve health is to honor your body. It supports people in adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being (rather than weight control). 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.

  • and from Dr. Linda Bacon: “Health at Every Size is the new peace movement.”

    “Very simply, it acknowledges that good health can best be realized independent from considerations of size. It supports people of all sizes in addressing health directly by adopting healthy behaviors.”

    If you are tired of dieting and ready to focus on health instead of some magic number on the scale, check out  Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight by Linda Bacon, PhD and her most recently released book, Body Respect (http://thebodypolitic.biz/bodyrespect/), co-authored with Lucy Aphramor

  • And be sure to check out the HAES website at http://www.haescommunity.org/