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Diets Don't Work… Let's Try a Different Approach

Posted November 17, 2016 by Michelle Reichert, RD

Health At Every Size Health At Every Size® or HAES™ is a movement that is spreading quickly across the nation. However surprisingly for some, it is a catchphrase that carries little meaning. So, what is HAES™? HAES™ is a concept that supports the non-dieting approach and states that the best way to improve health is to honor your body. It supports people of all shapes and sizes in adapting health habits for the sake of health and well-being not for weight control. Because let's face it, dieting, manipulating your intake to achieve a desired body shape/size, does not work. In fact, dieting has taken its toll on society and left its mark by resulting in a world filled with individuals who are: self-hating, food and body preoccupied, judgmental, practice disordered eating behaviors and who are living in poor health despite living in an "ideal" body form. Few of us can state that we are at peace with our bodies and ourselves. So, what can we do?

What about adapting a Non-Diet approach?

The HAES™ approach encourages:

  1. Weight Inclusivity - Accepting and respecting the natural diversity of body shapes & sizes and rejecting specific weight standards.
  2. Eating for Well-being – Promotes individualized eating in a flexible manor that values nutritional needs, pleasure and respecting our internal cues of appetite, hunger, satiety, and fullness rather than externally regulating our eating habits based on weight control.
  3. Life-Enhancing Movement – Supports physical activity that allows people of all shapes, sizes and abilities to participate in the joy of moving one’s body and becoming more physically vital.
Information adapted from

How this approach can be achieved:

1. Shift the way you think about your body

Diet Approach Non-Diet Approach

Success is determined by achieving and maintaining your goal weight

The body's natural weight is achieved by responding to physical cues of hunger and fullness and the body’s natural desire for movement, play and a sense of well-being.

2. Shift the way you think about food and hunger

Diet Approach Non-Diet Approach

Foods are good/bad, Healthy/Unhealthy, etc.

All food is acceptable (use neutral language when describing food)

Suppressing or ignoring hunger cues is normalized. Food consumption is determined by external cues such as: calorie content, fat grams, diet plan, recommendations from a health care provider and/or celebrity, time of day, etc.

Food consumption is determined by listening to internal cues of appetite/hunger/satiety/fullness, as well as taste preferences, pleasure, sense of well-being

Physical and emotional hunger are confused

Mindful and intuitive eating principles are practiced

3. Shift the way you think about exercise

Diet Approach Non-Diet Approach

Achieving and maintaining a goal weight is dependent on regular exercise routines

Exercise is: joyful movement, listening to your body, and seeking play. Exercise is not connected to weight loss or change in body shape and/or size

Let's try the HAES™ approach on for size. I'm sure it will fit just right!