Health at Every Size(HAES) originated from the non-profit Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH) to help promote the organization’s belief that health and well-being are independent of anyone’s body weight.
Proponents of the Health at Every Size philosophy propose that having nutritious eating habits and feeling emotionally, socially, and spiritually fit and connected supersede what your numbers are on a scale. The philosophy follows the belief that everyone’s body is different, determined by diverse genetic and cultural backgrounds and traits.
ASDAH considers weight-based discrimination as an instance of someone being perceived in a negative light by peers or the medical community because their weight is not within a specific range. This stigma attached to body weight can lead to bullying, negative self-image, and hostile social consequences. Being stereotyped as overweight can lead to feelings of shame or being uncomfortable with your own body, a mindset that can then lead to the onset of an eating disorder.
Rather than judging anyone’s health according to their weight, body shape, or BMI, Health at Every Size focuses on the idea that there is no such thing as a universal ideal weight for healthful living.
The Principles of Health at Every Size
Some of the main tenets associated with Health at Every Size include the following:
- Acceptance: Health at Every Size rejects the idealization of the perfect body and is against specific weights being considered abnormal. Self-acceptance leads to self-empowerment, which can spur on positive changes you may desire to make in your life.
- Well-Being: Access to information and services for everyone that will improve personal contentment and individual needs (whether physical, social, spiritual or other) are advocated and supported by Health at Every Size.
- Recognize Biases: Having respect for others and working to put an end to weight discrimination, weight stigma, and weight bias are supported.
- Individualized Eating: One of the principles of Health at Every Size is to advocate for flexible eating habits that are based on nutritional needs, hunger, and feeling good, instead of placing the focus on specific diets for weight loss.
- Movement For Pleasure: Encourage physical activities according to an individual’s own choice, regardless of size, interest, or ability. Each person can choose to take part in movement of some type, solely for its pure enjoyment.
The principles of Health at Every Size are directed at both policy makers and individuals to support health, encourage social connectivity, and feel good in your body.