What would improve if you separated health from weight?

Woman Hiking_HAES

In my recovery from long-term chronic dieting and orthorexia, I’ve learned a great deal about separating weight and weight loss from health.

This has been so impactful that it has completely changed how I approach health conversations in the clinic.

This is called Health at Every Size® (HAES).

Let’s start with the five principles to the HAES approach. This is summarized directly from the website for ASDAH – the Association for Size Diversity and Health.

Weight Inclusivity

Accept and respect the diversity of body shapes and sizes. Reject the idealizing or pathologizing of specific weights.

Health Enhancement

Support health policies that improve access to services. Support personal practices that improve well-being, including not just physical, but also economic, social, spiritual, and emotional needs.

Eating for Well-Being

Promote flexible, individualized eating based on hunger, satiety, nutritional needs, and pleasure, rather than any externally regulated eating plan focused on weight control.

Respectful Care

Acknowledge and work to end weight discrimination, weight stigma, and weight bias.

Life-Enhancing Movement

Support physical activities that allow people of all sizes, abilities, and interests to engage in enjoyable movement, to the degree that they choose.

So what does that mean?

In simplified terms:

  • Stop judging yourself and others for weight, size, or shape.
  • Stop holding up an “ideal” weight as the holy grail of health.
  • Stop allowing others to dictate what you should or should not be doing.
  • Start noticing where weight bias is showing up, including in your healthcare appointments.
  • Start engaging in behaviors that feel good to you or are enjoyable regardless of weight outcome.
  • Start giving yourself permission to nourish yourself as you see fit.

For more information about HAES, go to the Association for Size Diversity and Health.

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