Health at Every Size (HAES) may be a word or acronym floating around in the media, but this approach to mindful and healthful eating is gaining traction in the research world.
What it is: HAES encourages (1) body acceptance, (2) respect for diversities of body shapes and sizes, (3) finding joy in physical activity, and (4) promotion of eating habits that balance the individual’s nutritional needs with the feelings of hunger, satiety, appetite, and pleasure¹.
HAES is a very different message than what has been the recent social norm regarding diets as presented by popular media, whereby the only way to lose weight and be healthy are to calorie restrict, ignore hunger cues, detach pleasure from eating, and/or to excessively exercise.
A randomized clinical control study conducted an intervention in a sample of Brazilian women using HAES. Participants were randomly assigned to either a control or intervention group. Both groups were exposed to traditional HAES teachings, but the HAES intervention group had more in-depth lessons including philosophical workshops, group physical activities, and individual nutrition counseling.
Results: Participants from both groups had an increase in guiltlessness of eating pleasure, greater reflection on food desires, and better social eating experiences¹. Instead of becoming even further removed from thoughtfully making food choices and finding pleasure in eating, both groups were bridging the gaps between eating and listening to their bodies. The intervention group experienced even greater benefits through decreased emotional eating, greater perception of autonomy over food choices, and increased cooking¹.
HAES is one approach that offers a more well rounded and sustainable approach to healthy changes for both body and mind. It is a direct tool that can help address such easily spoken, but hard to manage tasks such as eating "all things in moderation."
As noted, HAES is also a movement, aiming to bring about social justice where social stigmas and disparities may lie. Visit https://haescommunity.com/haes-connections/ to learn more or take the pledge. You can also email us at info@NutritionRites.com for more information on HAES.
Sabatini, F., Ulian, D. M., Perez, I., Pinto, A. J., Vessoni, A., Aburad, L., … (2019). Eating Pleasure in a Sample of Obese Brazilian Women: A Qualitative Report of an Interdisciplinary Intervention Based on the Health at Every Size Approach. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Volume 119 (9), 1470-1482. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2019.01.006
Cheyenne is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist located in the Charleston, SC area.