Health at Every Size calls itself the new peace movement. Its philosophy is that good health can be achieved regardless of your weight, and it highlights the importance of both mental and physical health.
HAES focuses on a healthful but not restrictive diet; it also emphasizes mindful eating by monitoring hunger and satiety.When I first learned of HAES, I was very excited because it is not a diet; it is a lifestyle change. I always try to teach and promote complete lifestyle changes instead of quick-fix diets.
There are many fad diets that can take weight off quickly but are not likely to give you optimal healthful results. I really like that HAES focuses on mental health. Every dietitian knows there is a huge psychological component to what people eat and why they eat it. When I see patients for weight loss, a majority of the appointment time is dedicated to discussing the patient’s relationship with food rather than physical dietary restrictions.
I will come out and say I agree with HAES, but there is a “but.” Yes, it is possible to be healthy and be overweight, but being overweight is a major risk factor for many diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain types of cancers. Even though you may be healthy at the present time, you are at an increased risk of developing these diseases later on.
If you are at an unhealthy weight, you need to make sure you are frequently monitoring your health because of this increased risk.It is important to understand that weight is not the sole indicator of health status. As I stated earlier, I often see people who are looking for a quick fix weight-loss diet. Some of these diets result in rapid weight loss but can actually be detrimental to a person’s overall health. Some side effects of rapid weight-loss diets can include dehydration, imbalances in gut bacteria, decreased metabolism and even kidney and cardiovascular problems.
Nutrition is not “one size fits all.” When assessing an individual’s nutritional status, weight is one of many factors I review. Some of the other factors I review include medical history, family history, age, activity level and socioeconomic status. I then formulate a plan to meet the patient’s nutritional needs based on their food preferences and health goals.
Keep in mind that the number on the scale is not an absolute indicator of your current health status. Be mindful of your overall health status. Take time to focus on both physical and mental health. Aim for a balanced diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Remember there is not a single diet plan that works for everyone, and if a diet plan sounds too good to be true, it probably is.