Weighing in on Healthy Behaviors
One size does not fit all when it comes to people. There are plenty of misconceptions about the meaning of Health At Every Size®, including that a person can be healthy at any weight. Unfortunately, that just isn’t true. Each body is designed with an ideal weight range where it will function best, and outside that healthy range, it won’t perform as it should.
However, this ideal weight is not the same for everyone. With this idea in mind, the Healthy At Every Size® program supports people in adopting healthy habits for the purpose of wellness, not with weight loss as the ultimate goal.
Many people engage in healthy behaviors like exercising and eating balanced diets in order to lose weight. The assumption is that weight loss equals health. But weight is not a good measure of health. You can’t look at someone’s size and assess their health.
Furthermore, when weight loss is the primary goal, frustration and self-hatred can result, leading to unhealthy weight loss practices, and possibly giving up altogether.
Health At Every Size®, or HAES®, puts the focus on health rather than weight. When recognizing weight isn’t the true measurement of health, we can engage in a more sensible approach, being mindful of a person’s behaviors, resources and abilities. By eating a balanced diet and participating in enjoyable physical activities, we’ll improve our health, even if our weight remains unchanged.
HAES® is based on the belief that all bodies are good bodies, and that people of all shapes and sizes can take meaningful steps to improve their health. When we love and appreciate our bodies, we’re more likely to improve our health, increase our self-worth, and stay committed to healthy behavior.
The Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH) outlines the following principles for Health At Every Size®.
1. Weight Inclusivity:
Accept and respect the inherent diversity of body shapes and sizes and reject the idealizing or pathologizing of specific weights.
2. Health Enhancement: Support health policies that improve and equalize access to information and services, and personal practices that improve human well-being, including attention to individual physical, economic, social, spiritual, emotional, and other needs.
3. Respectful Care: Acknowledge our biases, and work to end weight discrimination, weight stigma, and weight bias. Provide information and services from an understanding that socio-economic status, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and other identities impact weight stigma, and support environments that address these inequalities.
4. 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.
5. 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.