I've heard a lot of reasons to be against health at every size, honestly, at one point or another I probably thought or said a lot of these things along my journey. And that's okay. This society makes the fat phobic mindset and bias the easiest route. So, climbing out of it and living on the other side takes a lot of unlearning, being open minded and seeing from multiple perspectives, while realizing when diet culture and fat bias might just be creeping in (and man, is it a sneaky one), and an openness to learning and researching and experimenting and forgiving yourself, ongoing.
We had a brief introduction on what HAES is and before we dive further into it I want to put it point blank what HAES is not.
1. Health at Every Size is not a weight loss program
If there's a promise of weight loss, it isn't health at every size. The name says it all. Health at Every Size. Not at every size but... Not at most sizes... Not to a certain degree... Not just for an arbitrary range... It is health at EVERY size. It is inclusive of all body shapes and sizes. Anyone that considers themselves a Health at Every Size practitioner and chooses to use that term should not discriminate.
2. Health at Every Size is not glorifying obesity
First of all, there's plenty of information out there that goes to show that BMI is useless, which is what we use to determine "obsesity". I mean, the guy who invented it was literally just trying to plot weights vs height to show that they fell along a bell curve, and surprise, they did! (AKA there's a wide range of bodies across the spectrum but the bulk of people fall somewhere in the middle.) Again, I feel the name says it all. Health at Every Size. We aren't glorifying any one body type, but are saying that all body types are worthy to aspire for health without pursuing weight loss. If practicing health at every size, your body will eventually trend to your natural set point range, which we'll get to that a bit later. This weight may be higher than what you start at, it may be lower, or it may stay the same. Whatever weight it is will be a-okay because weight is a very poor indicator of health, which leads me to...
3. Health at Every Size is not letting go of yourself
I feel I keep coming back to the name... but here we are again. HEALTH at Every Size. Health is right there in the title. Through this approach we just take the fixation and obsession that comes with weight loss and dieting and truly focus on healthy behaviors for each individual. Because health isn't black and white, how we approach this is different for everyone, and allows us to provide truly comprehensive care. But it doesn't have to involve restrictive diets and it doesn't have to result in weight loss.
Side note: I want it to be clear that there are circumstances that prevent someone from having perfect health that are beyond their choices and control (disabilities, chronic disease, etc) and this is not exclusive to larger bodied people. There can be thin people with health problems, just as there can be larger bodied individuals who are in the best health-because size is not a determinant. In spite of these obstacles, individuals can still strive for health where they are at.
4. Health at every size is not easy
I wish I could say it were. I wish I could tell you that you'll read this book and listen to some podcasts and follow some people on social media, and you'll be there, in all your HAES glory, rocking the body you have right now, intuitively eating, and living your best lives. But it takes a lot of work. At times diet culture will slip in-unintentionally-whether it's something you or someone else says, in an action (or reaction) you take or just a thought. But with practice, our reaction to others, our thoughts, our words and our actions start to better reflect HAES. You just have to keep at it and if you're ready, it's beyond worth it.
What are some misconceptions you've heard about HAES? If you've faced the misconceptions, what's stopping you from embarking on a Health at Every Size path?