7 Health at Every Size Facts

by | Health at Every Size

If you’re familiar with us at Courage to Nourish, you probably know that we are a HAES-aligned practice. But what exactly does that mean? Essentially, it means that our Courage to Nourish dietitians are dedicated to treating their clients based on a specific set of principles that make up the HAES model. Now, let’s discuss what the HAES model entails.


What is the HAES Model?

Health At Every Size©, or HAES, is a weight-inclusive approach to health based on 5 principles as defined by the Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH). Together, the goal of these principles is to promote health equity, support ending weight discrimination, and improve access to quality healthcare regardless of size. At the core of the HAES movement, is the belief that “health” is relative and ever-changing. Specifically, every person’s health consists of a continuum that varies with time and circumstance. For example, a 50-year-old’s “healthy” may not look the same as when they were 20. Or for someone with a disease, their definition of “healthy” will probably look greatly different before and after their diagnosis. However, this doesn’t mean that either conception of health is more or less “correct.” Rather, these examples just highlight the complex and holistic nature of health that the HAES model tries to address.

HAES acknowledges that often outside factors, such as access to health care or food, impact health more than personal behaviors do. If someone doesn’t have consistent access to food, how can they be expected to prioritize their health? They’re probably more concerned about where they can find their next meal, never mind if it’s a salad or a burger. Not everyone prioritizes their health, whether by circumstance or choice. Under the HAES model, that’s ok! HAES seeks to meet people where they are, instead of forcing them into unrealistic and rigid standards like most traditional models of health.


What are the 5 Core Principles of HAES?

Below are the 5 principles which all HAES thought is founded upon. (Note: each of these definitions was taken from the ASDAH.)

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. 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.”

4. 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 inequities.”

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.”


HAES Facts

We know that the HAES beliefs and what these beliefs look like in practice can be hard to grasp. So, to further help you understand HAES we’ve compiled a list of statements or “facts” about the movement. Let’s review 7 Health at Every Size Facts:

1. HAES Values Bodies of All Sizes

HAES values bodies of all sizes and encourages universal body acceptance.

2. HAES Dismantles Ideal Aesthetic Norms

HAES aims to dismantle people’s adherence to social pressures to fit an ideal aesthetic and look a certain way.

3. HAES Does Not Promote Food Restrictions

HAES does NOT promote food restriction of any kind. Many studies have shown that restricting food can create a preoccupation with food and bring on feelings of guilt and shame.

4. HAES Promotes New Healthy Ideals

HAES defines health-promoting behaviors as behavior patterns that simultaneously reduce negative feelings, such as guilt or shame, and fuel positive feelings, such as joy and self-esteem.

5. HAES Permits Eating All Foods

HAES encourages unconditional permission to eat all foods regardless of how much you ate or moved your body today.

6. HAES Promotes Joyful Movement

HAES promotes joyful movement. Instead of exercising to burn calories or punish your body, HAES encourages exercising because it brings you joy or makes your body feel good. “Joyful movement” can include any type of exercise, like doing yoga or playing racquetball, as long as you enjoy it.

7. HAES Does Not Promote Weight Loss

HAES does NOT promote weight loss. Numerous studies have shown that intentional weight loss attempts almost never lead to long-term weight loss or improvement in health, and instead, these attempts often have negative side effects.


Closing Thoughts on the HAES Model

As we continue to learn more about ourselves as humans, our approaches to medicine and treatment continue to evolve. That’s the beauty of the HAES model. It’s designed to be flexible, to change from person to person, while still being inclusive. Under HAES, everyone is entitled to individualized and compassionate care. If you’re looking to improve your relationship with food and/or your body, working with a HAES-aligned dietitian is a great place to start. They will work with you based on your individual needs and support you in your journey toward body acceptance and intuitive eating.

If you’re looking for a HAES dietitian who can support you in finding peace with food and body you can contact us using the information below.

Or if you’re simply interested in learning more about HAES visit the ASDAH website.

Contact Us

Courage to Nourish is a group of eating disorder specialized dietitians. We have in person locations in Alexandria, Virginia, Columbia, Maryland. and College Park, Maryland. We offer virtual services across the state of Virginia, Washington DC, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. We offer individual nutrition therapy. As well as support groups. We would love to guide you in building a better relationship with food.

Contact us for more information. And to schedule a discovery call. Also, sign up for our client or clinician newsletter!

emilee wells, dietitian

Emilee Young, RDN, LD

I am a Registered Dietitian dedicated to helping those in recovery. I have worked in both an intensive outpatient and a partial hospitalization setting where I have been able to help clients from all backgrounds develop a healthier relationship with food. I practice based on the philosophy that “all foods fit” and want to help clients create a sustainable and joyful experience with food and movement. I specialize in binge eating disorder recovery and enjoy working with clients to establish peace with food. I am a fat positive and anti-diet dietitian working from a Health At Every Size © and Intuitive Eating model.

registered dietitian for eating disorders


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