What is Health at Every Size®? And why is it an important value in our practice?
Health at Every Size® is a paradigm shift from the traditional focus on weight as a significant measure of health. We recognize that health is multifaceted and affected by many factors outside our direct control. We also understand the negative impact of diet culture on the health of our patients. We believe it important to acknowledge the impact of stigma and marginalization on health and to fight to address social and health disparities.
Many people come to us hoping for help with weight loss and waiting for their lives to start. However, we are frank that we do not promote the pursuit of weight loss as a goal. We do not believe in trying to control size and weight. We believe that bodies will settle at whatever weight they need to be. At Eating Disorder Therapy LA, we recognize and celebrate that bodies naturally come in all shapes and sizes. We value diversity.
Eating disorders are of course, complex, but are often triggered by dieting. Diet failure can also lead to weight cycling: alternating periods of weight loss and weight gain. Weight cycling has been shown to lead to psychological and health problems. In addition, it can lead to reduced metabolic energy expenditure, which makes regain more likely.
We follow a Health at Every Size® (HAES) approach. A HAES approach allows you to trust your body to maintain the body size and shape that is right for you. We focus on creating and maintaining healthy behaviors including flexible eating and enjoyable movement. We follow a non-diet approach in which all foods are allowed. We work with our patients on challenging weight stigma (both their own internalized and in the larger community) and standing up to diet culture. We help our patients to improve body image, to live full lives whatever their size, and to seek respectful care from other professionals.
We find that many people anticipate that they cannot possibly feel better unless they lose weight. However, the majority of those who go through a full course of treatment make significant improvements in their eating behaviors and are surprised at how much better they are able to feel even without weight loss.
How Do We Address Body Image?
First, we help you understand that it is normal to want weight loss, but we educate you on the research that shows that dieting doesn’t work. We help you get to the body weight that your body wants to be at. This is the weight that your body goes to when you are not dieting, bingeing, purging or overexercising and when you can comfortably eat foods that you truly enjoy in amounts that are satiating. We help you develop a healthier relationship with food and teach you the principles of Intuitive Eating. We believe that food is about more than sustenance and connects us to others. We also help you develop a more healthy relationship with movement. We may suggest that you shop for clothes that fit you and make you feel good.
We work with you on developing skills and confidence to manage others in your life who may still be focused on weight loss including providers, peers, and family members. We help you diversify your social media feed, become familiar with a broader range of human diversity through photography, and learn to be in photographs. We help you navigate life events like weddings and pregnancy.
We understand this work is hard. Standing up to diet culture is challenging but it can bring you peace and freedom you have never known. And we are here to support you on the journey.