‘Health at Every Size’ (HAES) is a concept that entails making smart healthy eating decisions to ensure good health irrespective of the size of your body. A group of researchers belonging to Laval University, Québec, Canada used HAES-based therapies to educate Canadian overweight women about intuitive eating and not dieting or starving themselves due their increased body weights.
The study was published in Clinical Nutrition while findings from the research done by the Canadian scientists checked the efficacy of using HAES intervention offered by healthcare professionals from Health and Social Services Centers in Quebec, Canada. As a result of several 3-hour long meetings and 6-hour long intensive day sessions per week of HAES intervention, 216 women who were compared with 110 women from the control group, showed significant improvement in their intuitive eating scores and quality of diets.
The idea behind intuitive eating is to accept yourself for who you are as a person and learn to make peace with your dietary habits. Experts from the Intuitive Eating Organization believe that for your overall health and well-being, it is important to know your worth as a person and to stop blaming yourself for not eating healthy.
HAES interventions consist of promotional activities aimed at bringing about behavioral changes as well as promoting anti-discriminatory pro-health efforts through different empowering methods such as counseling sessions. The sole purpose of HAES programs is to develop a sense of self-worth by adopting an intuitive approach comprising of healthy eating habits rather than simply thinking about weight loss.
During research, intuitive eating was assessed using the Intuitive Eating Scale and diet quality was gauged through the calculation of the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) from a credible food frequency questionnaire. Different measurements were taken at different points of time during the follow-up period of one year. However, it was concluded that the exact reason for the association between intuitive eating and diet quality was not clear but was observed as being positive and significant after HAES intervention.
The intuitive approach also shares deep roots with the psychological dimension of feminism by rectifying the stigmatization of obese and overweight women.
Intuitive eating is a very simple concept that emphasizes not worrying about weight and dieting practices and insists on developing healthy eating habits in a normal manner. In this regard, the Intuitive Eating Organization is a US-based community that focuses on intuitive eating by creating a healthy relationship amongst food, mind and the body, eventually allowing you full, positive control over what your body consumes.
Another study published in the Obesity reviewed the stigma of obesity by analyzing scientific literature. It was found that obesity and being overweight negatively affects almost every aspect of the life of the individuals. Overweight individuals are highly stereotyped with the consequent weight bias affecting both their personal and private lives. Even the attitude of healthcare professionals towards obese people reflected a severe degree of bias in providing medical facilities and in general.
Moreover, this study, gathered from The North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO) also emphasized on the ‘fat acceptance movement’ rather than socially and emotionally targeting obese individuals and hoping for highlighting a much needed greater social change to prevent negative body imaging and perception.
Another discriminatory point highlighted by the analysis was a recent article aimed at demeaning obese people — The Obese Should Have to Pay More For Airline Tickets. Such negativity can be best countered through counseling programs.
A further study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association validates the effectiveness of using the HAES approach among premenopausal overweight or obese women by showing long-term beneficial effects on eating behaviors related to dis-inhibition and hunger.
Two healthcare professionals Evelyn Tribole, registered dietitian, and Elyse Resch, nutritional therapist, are the authors of the Intuitive Eating Principles and are affiliated with The Intuitive Eating Organization. Both experts suggested certain solutions to fight different psychological and social aspects associated with being overweight.
Both authors emphasized rejecting the diet mentality and honoring hunger by eating enough carbs and essential biomolecules and having a proper diet. They urge to ‘challenge the food police’ by not relying on calorie counting excessively and eating healthy diets.
The main message endorsed regarding intuitive eating is to respect the body and not worry about your weight so much. According to both nutrition experts, the foremost priority for a healthy life is honoring your health by consuming a high-quality diet rather than starving yourself merely for the sake of losing extra weight without exercising.