If you haven’t heard about the Health at Every Size (aka HAES) movement, you’re missing out on a critical approach to working through food and body issues. Described by Dr. Linda Bacon in HEALTH AT EVERY SIZE (in her new 2010 edition), this well-documented and enlightening guide to living healthfully at any and every size is guaranteed to make you feel better about yourself and your body.
To quote from their website ( HYPERLINK "http://www.haescommunity.org/" http://www.haescommunity.org/): “Health at Every Size is based on the simple premise that the best way to improve health is to honor your body. It supports people in adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being [my emphasis] (rather than weight control). Health at Every Size encourages: Accepting and respecting the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes; Eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite; and Finding the joy in moving one’s body and becoming more physically vital.”
Let’s take a closer look at these values. First, accepting and respecting that we come in all shapes and sizes. That means letting go of the idea that there is only one perfect size or shape to be. For example, our culture has an idealized appearance for women—tall, big-breasted, small-waisted, and long-legged. Well, what happens if you don’t come from a heritage that’s going to produce that ideal? Does that mean you must feel dissatisfied with your body? Of course not. It means that you, because you’re smart and can think for yourself, can broaden your idea of female beauty.
As to eating flexibly, I’ve been singing this same song for over 30 years. Your appetite is unique and there’s no one diet or way of eating that’s going to meet everyone’s needs or cravings. Feel proud of your individuality regarding appetite. You’re different from every human being who has ever lived on the planet, so proudly follow appetite cues that are uniquely yours. That’s the only way to feel nourished and satisfied.
Next, forget about weight and enjoy how your body feels when it’s active and moving. Notice how alive you feel when you dance, play sports, or engage in activity—stretching, gardening, household chores, etc. Focus on enhancing your body’s grace, strength, flexibility, stamina, and physical pleasure. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can only enjoy your body when it’s thin or thinner. Not true! Start now, at whatever size you are. By focusing not on weight but on creating a healthy, fit body, you’ll be making the crucial shift necessary for thinking about food and exercise in a totally new way.