What is HAES?

By Matthew Nguyen, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

Social media, as much fun as it is, continues to create ‘social norms’ that are damaging.  A big one of these being what a healthy person should look like. Society has established that being skinny or muscular is healthy, while being large or overweight is considered unhealthy. This creates a bias towards weight which can lead to food and body preoccupation, self-hatred, eating disorders, discrimination, poor health, etc. But, did you know that your body shape or weight does not necessarily determine your health. This is what the Health at Every Size movement or HAES strives to change. This movement helps recognize that health outcomes are mainly driven by social, economic, and environmental factors, which require a social and political response.  This change in mindset might not be easy, but here are some tips you can try to incorporate into your everyday life.

1. Trust yourself. We all have internal systems designed to keep us healthy — and at a healthy weight. Support your body in naturally finding its appropriate weight by honoring its signals of hunger, fullness, and appetite.

2. Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full, and seek out pleasur­able and satisfying foods.

3. Tailor your tastes so that you enjoy more nutritious foods, staying mindful that there is plenty of room for less nutritious choices in the context of an overall healthy diet and lifestyle

4. Embrace size diversity. Humans come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Open to the beauty found across the spectrum and support others in recognizing their unique attractiveness.

5. Find the joy in moving your body and becoming more physically vital in your everyday life.

6. Accept your size. Love and appreciate the body you have. Self-acceptance empowers you to move on and make positive changes.

I hope people who read this understand that we are all beautiful and we should not let society dictate how you should look and feel. 😊

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