*By the way, there are also discrepancies in health across lower and higher socioeconomic statuses. I do not touch on this issue in this blog, although I am continually learning more about this. Genetics also play a role. So “health” is based on so much more than food and exercise.
The traditional dieting approach has been in vogue for more than 30 years, but it has the highest failure rate out of any industry.
Many of the women I speak to have spent years, if not their whole lives dieting and weight cycling. Weight cycling is problematic in itself, but the focus on weight can also erode self-worth and adversely affect psychological health.
The Health At Every Size (HAES) approach has received some negative press about not focusing on weight; it has also been suggested that HAES promotes obesity. However, this is where the approach is grossly misunderstood.
HAES is NOT anti-weight loss. Rather, it does not promote weight loss as a health strategy. Key reasons for this are: weight loss is not a behaviour, it is an outcome and a focus on weight perpetuates weight stigma.
Weight stigma is a form of social prejudice toward people of higher body weight, one that elicits deep personal shame and can prevent people from engaging in healthier behaviours.
Another key problem with making weight loss the focus is that a person can actively take steps to improve their eating and movement habits, and not lose any weight at all. Despite their overall health greatly improving, that person may then become disheartened and go back to restrictive eating (dieting).
The HAES approach helps people find sustainable health behaviours that support overall well-being, acknowledge and address weight stigma, and is inclusive of human diversity in terms of body size, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identification and social status.
There is no doubt when people feel better within themselves, they are more likely to engage in healthy behaviours and feel motivated to take care of their bodies.
With HAES, if a person loses weight through changing their health behaviours and better self-care, weight loss is a beneficial side effect, not the primary goal.
If you would like help incorporating the HAES principles into your health routine, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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