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A Very Simple HAES FAQ
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HAESBunny Offline
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A Very Simple HAES FAQ
What is HAES?

From HAES UK
Quote:HAES stands for "Health At Every Size".

It is an approach to health that does not pursue the goal of a particular body weight, but rather concentrates on what health benefits and improvements can practically be achieved for individuals...

...For the typical person, following HAES includes size acceptance, listening to internal body signals and taking care of the body with nutritious varied eating and enjoyable exercise.

Basically, people who practice HAES do not pursue weight loss or weight gain as their default means of being "healthy". Instead, we focus on healthy behaviours, tailored to the individual's needs and abilities.

HAES may also involve practicing Intuitive Eating.


What is intuitive eating?

Intuitive eating is a way of approaching eating based on your own body's needs. We have evolved with built-in cues for hunger and fullness, and intuitive eating is about learning to recognise and respond to these cues/ rather than ignoring the signals our own bodies send. It is also about listening to what our bodies say about what they want to eat, as well as how much and how often. It's about learning to get back in touch with our bodies, and to treat food as sustenance, nutrition and a source of pleasure. There is no such thing as "good" or "bad" food, excepting allergies and medical conditions which dictate restrictions (IBS, for example).


You eat whatever you want? Don't you just end up eating junk all the time?

Note I did not say "eating whatever you want". Eating mindfully means eating what your body is asking for when you are hungry, stopping when you are full, and filtering that information through your own knowledge and needs at the time. When we learn to reject the notion that a bar of chocolate is "naughty" and a bowl of lettuce is "good", we also lose the guilt and temptation associated with those concepts. This isn't an instant fix, and is an ongoing journey, but it can be helpful.


What about people with eating disorders? Surely a person with [insert eating disorder here] shouldn't just eat when they feel like it!

Well, this really depends. Some people with eating disorders find that intuitive eating practices can help them regain some control over their lives, and get back in touch with the bodies they've learned to ignore. Others may find it isn't a suitable or safe approach for them. But intuitive eating does not have to form part of any individual's HAES practices, it is simply one option.


But why don't you practice weight loss? Aren't fat people unhealthy?

Not necessarily. There has been a lot of research over the years regarding BMI and health, and contrary to current assumptions, there's a lot of evidence to indicate that weight loss is not a realistic or effective means of improving health long-term for most people.

For one thing, diet regimes that focus on weight loss have an abysmal failure rate. Between 95-98% of dieters will regain most, all and sometimes more weight than they lose within five years of starting their diet, even if they continue with the diet regime during that time.

For another, dieting can do harm to the body, and some of the extreme lengths health professionals are willing to encourage fat people to take to lose weight can be extremely harmful.

Considering the high failure rate of dieting, it's fairly normal for people pursuing weight loss to spend years losing and re-gaining weight, and not only can yo-yo dieting itself be unhealthy, this can also decrease motivation to continue with healthy habits. After all, why "punish" yourself with restrictive eating and exercise choices if it isn't "working"?

It is healthy behaviours which influence health. Exercising and eating well* bring benefits regardless of whether or not a person loses weight, and regardless of the weight of the person in question. See here.

*Please note that "eating well" can mean different things for different people.


Sure, practicing HAES is fine for you, but I really need to lose weight.

I disagree that you cannot possibly practice HAES at whatever weight you are. The point of HAES is to improve your own health by finding ways to exercise and improve the quality and variety of food you eat, by learning to eat mindfully and listen to your own body's signals, and by considering your individual limitations. You can practice HAES at any size. However, if you are determined to include weight loss in your personal fitness goals, this forum may not be for you. There are literally dozens of weight loss-oriented forums on the internet that you can enjoy.
(This post was last modified: 05-01-2013 11:34 PM by HAESBunny.)
05-01-2013 11:19 PM
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