You can catch Jacqui Gingras on Health At Every Size (HAES) here. Comments and feedback are welcome!
Filed under Health at Every Size (HAES)
Great to see this discussion on CBC Radio for so many to hear. I have been reading, off and on, about HAES since the beginning of my dietetic internship last fall. I was surprised when I first starting reading about HAES that I hadn’t been introduced to this way of thinking in my university courses. I am now working as an RD on Northern Vancouver Island.
I does make logical sense to me that the healthy weight of each individual should be based on the weight they can comfortably attain by being in tune with their body and listening to their hunger cues. To me, healthy weight should not be prescribed by a formula.
In listening to the interview, I found myself questioning whether if many people were to adopt the HAES philosophy if they would loss weight as a consequence of adopting a healthier relationship with food? Any thoughts or experiences on this? I do agree that someone who would conventionally be considered overweight may be healthy at this larger size, but what about individuals whose excess weight is decreasing their quality of life by for example, inhibiting exercise and decreasing self esteem?
When discussing weight issues with others, I don’t tend to promote weight loss as an end in itself, but I do see benefit to weight loss if it is a consequence of healthy lifestyle changes.
Hi Kim, thank you for your comment. It’s followers like you who enrich the Critical Dietetics community! You have raised some interesting discussion points. I think one of the greatest challenges is health professionals have been conditioned to use quantitative data (such as numbers seen on the scale) as indicators of success. We have been trained to think numbers are objective and the easiest way to measure success. HAES requires greater attention towards counseling in nutrition practice, moving away from the idea that weight is the best indicator of health status. Many clients also focus on weight, and training to focus more on health requires great effort – it is a change in thinking!
People might lose weight as a result of adopting the HAES approach. But the focus of HAES is not to use weight loss the marker for success. I know Jacqui can provide us with better insight on the topic…
– Michelle Kwan
Great question, Kim. I hear this one from time to time. I think it speaks to our very strong interest or preoccupation with people’s weight. We’ve been trained to focus on weight, so that makes sense, but I don’t think it is completely appropriate in all cases.
If people are metabolically healthy (good blood pressure, good insulin sensitivity, good, cholesterol profile) and they are also really active, manage their stress, are happy, and relationally-resilient (what have I missed?), then to me as a healthcare practitioner, it doesn’t matter one bit about their weight. Actually, if one of these things is missing, I don’t automatically focus on weight either, contrary to what I have been trained to do. If someone is inactive and attributes this to their weight, we explore that further. What is it about your weight that prevents you from being active? Do you need some massage/chiro/physio to help enhance mobility? What kinds of activity do you do – the unstructured types count like walking the dog, shovelling the snow, yoga, playing with the kids at the park, and so on? How do you feel in your body when you think about doing more structured activities – treadmill, aerobics, swimming, floor hockey? If you feel mentally uncomfortable, to what is that related? Size discrimination? Hearing remarks from others about your body? Feeling put down because of your body? Where do you feel safest and most free in your body? What gets in your way of moving your body for pleasure and joy?
You get the idea…it takes little steps to change these big world views. It takes courageous practitioners to offer alternative world views. People like you. Keep going. You are not alone!
We can liberate those we serve AND ourselves if we release our focus on weight. As Julie Rochefort says, “Shift the focus from weight to health!”
Very well said Jacqui!
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