‘HAES’/ ‘Health At Every Size’
A sustainable approach for weight loss and health
Personally, I had been so much in trouble for the last few years after I stopped the Keto way of eating. All the time I was thinking about weight gain and diets to lose weight. I was doing intermittent fasting and workouts yet the scale wasn’t moving. That was so heartbreaking and depressing and then I searched for a sustainable new approach for weight loss that focussed on listening to the hunger and fullness cues of the body and also didn’t make me deprived of food. This is called ‘Health at every size’ or (HAES) that aims to promote self-care by inculcating healthy eating habits and dealing with stigma related to weight.
People all over the world are moving away from the diet culture which can be observed through this movement ‘Health at Every Size (HAES)’. The philosophy behind HAES is that people of all sizes can have good health, and also that size can not determine the state of health of an individual.
The HAES or Health at Every Size movement encourages us to accept and appreciate everyone’s body. Your weight or size doesn’t matter. Once I read about HAES, I realized that the need for me is to shift my focus from ‘weight loss to building healthy habits. I understand that eating nutritious food and staying well exercised is the key to this movement.
My repeated failure in following diet culture had made me depressed and frustrated. The day I accepted that I am overweight but all my vitals are normal, I was set free from the compulsion of the need to struggle to lose weight. As generally it is believed that HAES is a movement by some people who have failed multiple times in losing weight through dieting, I say if that is the case, let it be. When I accepted that I am active, eating healthy, and working out well at the age of 55, I felt better within myself. This acceptance made me think more about healthy eating for the sole purpose of taking care of my body.
Say NO to weight stigma
There has been a stigma attached to the weight and it is nothing less than a social prejudice. Yes, even I have felt the same always. Even today I cringe seeing my pictures where I look ‘Reallyyyy FAT’ but then I see my picture when I was on the Keto diet and losing weight along with my facial glow and hair, I cringed the same way. HAES made me understand that not the number on the scale but the feeling of being healthy from inside you is all that matters.
Is ‘HAES’ against losing weight?
It has been a common thought that HAES is against losing weight and promotes obesity. I say a clear NO. This is nothing more than a misunderstanding. This movement ‘HAES’ is not anti-losing weight but against the thought of losing weight as a strategy to be healthy.
When I followed the Keto diet to lose weight, I understood that as an Indian, it was not the sustainable way to be healthy. I lost weight but my weight loss had nothing to do with changing my eating behavior. ‘HAES’ promotes a strategy that focuses on changing behaviors as the primary goal. If one makes an effort for specific healthy behaviors then weight loss comes as a benefit. It is all about seeing things from another side. In place of considering weight loss as the primary goal to be healthy, eating nutritious food and adding adequate physical activity is what ‘HAES’ movement is all about.
What HAES is against!
‘Health At Every Size’ is against …
- Non-acceptance of being overweight.
- Dieting and restrictive eating culture.
- Over-eating, emotional eating, and purging.
- Poor body image, and self-esteem issues
What am I doing to follow HAES concepts!
- I am learning to focus on health and wellbeing and building a healthy relationship with food.
- Trying my best to listen to my hunger and fullness cues.
- Making an effort to manage emotions and distress by indulging in physical activity in place of food.
Before I close this blog post let me re-introduce myself as a 55 years old woman who has finally learned to stay happy with herself and accepted that a happy chubby face is much better than an unhappy starved thin body.
This is what I was during my Keto Diet days….
From 2011 to 2021 I have tried all sorts of diets and finally accepted that all I need to be is happy and healthy. I eat healthy food and of course enjoy my sweet treats too but I walk and work out regularly because that gives me joy.
What about you? Are you in favor of diet culture or against it for weight loss?