Health At Every Size®: the Science Behind HAES®

Health At Every Size® or HAES® is an approach that focuses on respecting and valuing all bodies, regardless of their shape and size. 

It emphasizes that a person’s health is separate from their weight and that a person can be healthy at all different sizes.

As a Registered Dietitian, I am in support of the HAES® movement and the science behind it. This movement has even been shown to work better than crash or fad dieting!

In this post, I will be explaining what HAES is and the science behind its approach. So let’s get into it!

What is Health at Every Size?

Health At Every Size® or HAES® is a social movement that involves using other ways to look at someone’s health than just looking at their weight.

It helps us to get rid of the idea that our health is determined by what we look like on the outside.

HAES® highlights that we should all love our bodies regardless of our shape or size. All of our bodies deserve to be respected and loved for the amazing things they do for us!

Health At Every Size® follows a few key principles:

  • Love and appreciate the body you have, AKA accept your size
  • Start healthy lifestyle activities and connect with the ones you love
  • Exercise and eat healthfully not for physical reasons, but instead because it helps your body
  • Support people of all shapes and sizes
  • Learn to eat when you feel hungry and stop when you are feeling full

This information is meant to briefly introduce HAES® and give some insight into what the movement is all about.

What Does the Science Say?

It is important to learn the science behind if and why this approach works, as well as why it is better than dieting. 

Multiple scientific studies (1,2,3)  were done that educated people on Health at Every Size® using counseling visits and workshop classes.

The participants of the studies then applied what they learned to their life and had great results!

They found that the HAES® approach can improve the quality of someone’s diet, eating habits, body image, and attitudes around food. 

There has even been a study done that tested the HAES® approach with teens and concluded that it brought down walls that teens had towards doing health-promoting behaviors.

Teens who started using the HAES® approach while they were still growing had better quality of health and were more likely to engage in healthy behaviors as they got older. 

Why is Health at Every Size® Better than Dieting?

Health At Every Size® uses a practice called intuitive eating to help with managing someone’s weight.

Intuitive eating is a set of principles that focus on following when you feel hungry and your body’s signals before and after you eat.

It also encourages you to have a healthy relationship between your mind, body, and food.

People who eat this way and follow the HAES® approach end up having a better overall diet. They naturally start to like the foods that best support their body’s functions.

When you restrict your food instead, you may start to have food cravings and be more likely to eat past feeling full.

This is why listening to your body instead of dieting is so important! 

The Takeaway

As you can see, Health At Every Size® is a great approach that focuses on self-love, body acceptance, and intuitive eating.

It is so important to remember that everybody is different and that is what makes us all unique and beautiful. 

Even if we all ate the same things and exercised the same amounts, we still would not look the same! 

Contact me with any questions you have about the HAES® approach, I’d love to hear from you.