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HAES + Intuitive Eating


Medical wisdom today tells everyone three things about weight:


  1. The U.S. continuing to experience increasing levels of obesity
  2. Many individuals have a higher-than-ideal body mass index (BMI), which can dangerous in the long term
  3. Slimming down and dieting are the typical solutions to solve these problems.


Despite the huge amounts about “nutrition” people love to share online (weight-loss tips, fasting, dieting, cleansing/detox, etc.), collective waistlines are still as large or larger than compared to 35 years ago. Everyone has been struggling to fight against weight issues. The way it’s been handled doesn’t seem to be working at all for them. We all know that our relationship with our body is a complicated one.


The conventional weight-centered approach to health perpetuates weight stigma and bias and ultimately harms individuals’ health rather than improving it. 


HAES offers an alternative paradigm to health. It is a movement working to promote size-acceptance, to end weight discrimination, and to lessen the cultural obsession with weight loss and thinness. The HAES approach promotes balanced eating, life-enhancing physical activity, and respect for the diversity of body shapes and sizes. It also focuses on the symptoms the client actually has, and not assuming that weight loss will resolve the issue.

We all need to remember that all humans come in all shapes and sizes. No one is the same. 


So, what exactly is HAES? It is an initiative called Health At Every Size ®  (HAES ® ) is a well-known approach in shifting the way we think about our weight. An underlying principle for people to consider is size diversity as completely normal, and everyone, (no matter shape nor size) deserves respect. HAES ®  is also a dietary behavior approach that can offer alternatives to the restrictive diets we’ve all tried and failed. Philosophically, this approach suggests that both physical and mental wellbeing are taken into consideration. Which leads clients to be as healthy as they can achieve, at whatever weight THEY ARE AT. 

Healthful behaviors, not weight loss, are the focus of the HAES ®  approach. These behaviors include eating a healthful diet (but not restricting intake), physical activity, getting the proper amount of sleep, stress management, finding the joy in life, and intuitive eating—following hunger cues and eating mindfully. The Health at Every Size ® movement has a shifting focus of intense diet control and calorie counting for weight control towards your own natural body and honoring what your body needs through intuitive eating. Principles of HAES ® include:


  • Weight Inclusivity

  • Health Enhancement

  • Respectful Care

  • Eating for Well-Being

  • Life Enhancement Movement



Along with Health at Every Size (HAES®) comes the question, “What is intuitive eating? Intuitive eating is NOT a diet—it is a way of eating that listens to your body’s hunger/satiety cues. It also shows ways to be aware if you are physically hungry or emotionally hungry. However, listening to your hunger cues can be difficult at times, especially if you are used to following a restrictive diet. There are tools like a hunger scale, which can be a great way to start helping you get more in tune with your body. 


Intuitive eating is meant as a guide people towards a healthier relationship with food and their body. Essentially it helps you unlearn the external rules (like diet rules), and expectations of what and how much you should eat. Intuitive Eating works in two primary ways:


  1. Help you get back in tune with your body’s signals for hunger, fullness and satisfaction (aka introspective awareness)
  2. Removing obstacles that might prevent you from listening to your body (which can be extremely dictated by rigid food rules and thoughts about eating). 


Intuitive eating was created by two registered dietitians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.  There are 10 Key Principles that make up this style of eating/living. 

  1. Reject the Diet Mentality

  2. Honor Your Hunger

  3. Make Peace with Food

  4. Challenge the Food Police

  5. Respect your fullness

  6. Discover the satisfaction factor

  7. Honor Your Feelings

  8. Respect Your Body

  9. Movement – Feel the Difference

  10. Honor Your Health with Gentle Nutrition

If you think you could benefit from learning more about intuitive eating, there are ways to get started.

Without judgment, start taking stock of your own eating behaviors and attitudes. When you eat, ask yourself if you’re experiencing physical or emotional hunger.

With intuitive eating, how you eat is just as important as what you eat.

Letting your own internal cues of hunger and fullness guide your eating can lead to improved body image and quality of life.

If you feel that you could use more support in this process, please reach out to me. HAES and Intuitive eating are the foundation pieces that I teach in my new program, Uncover Food Freedom. I would be more than happy to chat with you more about how you can live better in food freedom.

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