Recently, I’ve heard some myths regarding Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size (HAES). Some feel that Intuitive Eating does not apply to them because they have health issues that require them to eat a certain way. Others feel shame for not being happy with how their body looks, or think HAES means ignoring their desires to lose weight. I wanted to clear up some of these misconceptions.
Myth #1: Intuitive Eating/HAES is “anti-weight loss”
Intuitive Eating/HAES is not “anti-weight loss.” Rather, it is “anti-pursuit of weight loss.” It is an approach to healthcare that focuses on health behaviors, not weight. It means not upholding weight as the ultimate health marker. Our bodies regulate our weight more than we realize, fighting to keep us within a range it wants to be in to function at its best. For this reason, weight is not predictable, and not something to be “controlled.”
Measuring weight as a marker of “success” or “failure” in healthcare creates shame and internalized weight stigma in those who have struggled with their weight, or struggled with feeling like they don’t measure up because of their weight. It can also delay appropriate diagnosis for those whose health issues may be blamed on their weight, rather than doing proper diagnostic testing to investigate further. HAES means standing against a focus on weight in healthcare, and shifting the focus to health behaviors. Health behaviors are within our control, but weight is not.
The reality is, we live in a culture that tells us the exact opposite. For this reason, it is completely understandable to feel like you don’t measure up. Your feelings are completely valid, and should be acknowledged. As a healthcare provider, I choose not to focus on weight, for the reasons stated above, meaning if you come to me for help, I won’t tell you to lose weight as a “treatment.” This does not mean I will shame you or dismiss your desires to change your body. I will help you work through it, and help you find peace with food and your body, taking a different approach.
Myth #2: Intuitive Eating/HAES is “anti-MNT”
Embracing Intuitive Eating and HAES does not mean tuning out anything you have heard about nutrition or how different eating patterns may affect your health. It does mean incorporating internal wisdom and innate cues when you make eating decisions, rather than relying solely on outside information and perceived rules.
Intuitive Eating has become viewed as “eating whatever you want.” In a way, that is true—it is about giving yourself permission to eat and being in the driver’s seat when it comes to your health and eating patterns. But, it does not mean ignoring how your body may respond to certain foods or ignoring what you truly need in the moment.
Everyone is different, and everyone responds differently to different foods, nutrients, and eating patterns. We all have different physical, mental, and emotional issues we may be dealing with. It is life saving for someone on dialysis to watch certain nutrients that can build to harmful levels in the blood. It can be health enhancing, for you, to eat in a certain way that makes you feel your best. For someone struggling with anorexia nervosa, it’s vital to remove food restrictions and heal the relationship with food/body. HAES and Intuitive Eating support this. It does not support one way of eating for everyone, but rather an individualized approach.Follow me on social media: