Happy Day 1 of HAES 101 week!! We’re so glad that you’re joining us. We hope that this week’s content will encourage and empower you to think critically about how our culture views weight and food. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably heard of concepts like “anti-diet” and “weight-inclusive.” Don’t worry if these things don’t make sense yet; the HAES world can be confusing. Our goal today is to clarify terms associated with the Health At Every Size movement. You can also find a fun FREEbie sheet with all of these terms defined.
Alright, let’s get to the good stuff …
Health At Every Size (HAES) Approach – an non-diet, weight-inclusive paradigm that values body respect and promotes intuitive eating. HAES recognizes natural size diversity, supports the view that health can be achieved at any weight, and shifts the focus of health away from weight and towards health-promoting behaviors. The movement was started by researchers Lindo Bacon and Lucy Aphramor (https://haescommunity.com/).
Diet culture – Registered Dietitian Christy Harrison defines diet culture as the following: “a system of beliefs that worships thinness, muscularity, and particular body shapes and equates those things with health and moral virtue; promotes weight loss and body reshaping as a means of attaining higher status; demonizes certain foods and ways of eating while elevating others; and oppresses people who don’t match up with diet culture’s supposed picture of health.”
Diet culture is rooted in the ideas that smaller bodies are more worthy than larger bodies, that restriction is not a disordered behavior (but a lifestyle change), and that we can manipulate our bodies to fit unattainable beauty standards.
Fatphobia – fear of body fat and of individuals in larger bodies; fatphobia focuses on defining an “in” and an “out” group based on the (largely uncontrollable) weight of individuals. Fatphobia perpetuates the idea that fat bodies are “bad” and that thin bodies are “good.”
Set point weight theory – this is the idea that your body regulates weight as it regulates other bodily functions such as temperature and kidney function. Your set point is a weight range within which your body will naturally fall when you are nourishing yourself adequately and moving intuitively. The body is designed to maintain this weight range that it has determined is best for YOU. Set point ranges can change in response to trauma, stress, and natural changes throughout one’s lifetime. This is normal.
Thin privilege – the unearned privileges rewarded to those in smaller bodies such as protection from weight stigma / bias, access to appropriate healthcare, increased job opportunities, and social benefits.
Weight stigma – unfair treatment and consideration of fat people / individuals in larger bodies due to their body size and the perceived amount of fat on their bodies. Weight stigma can result in weight-based discrimination.
Weight cycling – weight cycling is when your body goes through extreme cycles of weight change. This is usually a result of dieting and the restrict-binge cycle; when we restrict our food intake, our bodies increase hunger cues as a protective mechanism, fighting to maintain our set point. So while diets may cause initial weight loss, they tend to lead to weight gain in the long-run. These weight fluctuations put the body at risk for long-term health complications such as chronic stress, inflammation, and heart disease, health concerns often associated with “obesity” … but we’ll get into that later this week 😉
We hope this helped you gain some insight into the world of HAES! These terms and concepts will help us establish a foundation for understanding the anti-diet, weight-inclusive approach to health. Don’t worry if this feels like a lot right now; learning a different paradigm can feel both overwhelming and exciting at the same time! Take a deep breath and let these new ideas sink in for a bit. We’re so happy you’re on this journey with us 🙂
Feel free to comment below or email us with any questions.
Em & M