If you’ve read my blog before, then you know I talk a whole lot about Intuitive Eating (IE) and Health at Every Size (HAES). Maybe you’ve been introduced to these topics before and put them into practice every day, maybe you’ve only read about them on my blog, or maybe you’ve never heard of them before and just happened to find this post! Wherever you’re at, welcome- I’m so glad you found this blog post (it’s a good one 🙂 )!
You may be skeptical about IE and HAES (you’re not alone, I used to be too). Perhaps you think, “Well this is one person’s experience, I’m not like them, therefore I cannot practice IE or HAES in my own life” (I also used to think this). You may also say, “Hey Becca! You’re not a nutrition professional, you don’t have the qualifications to be talking about this stuff!” You’re right. I’m not. That’s why I only speak to my own personal experiences on my blog and Instagram– because that’s all I’m qualified to do. But it’s because of that specific reason that I created this blog post!
For this post, I’ve gone straight to the source! I recently reached out to some of my favorite IE and HAES Registered Dietitians (RD’s) and RD’2be (currently in their Dietetic Internship and/or masters program) and asked them to tell me why they believe in HAES and Intuitive Eating! Here’s what they had to say….
Amy Hanneke- RDN, LD, CLT, owner of Satisfy Nutrition
“I believe in HAES and intuitive eating because they allow people to explore a version of “healthy” that isn’t tied to weight, restriction, or numbers. Research shows that 95% of diets fail, i.e. dieters regain the weight they lose (and then some) – plus, they’re metabolically and psychologically damaging. Diets set us up to lose touch with our bodies, because by design they make us rely on external cues like a meal plan or schedule. It’s not a sustainable or satisfying way to live, and it sets people up to fail. I think the worst part about dieting is its implications: that A) you aren’t “enough” the way you are and you need to live in constant pursuit of a different/smaller body, and B) that if you fail a diet, it’s because you don’t have the willpower (when really, the diet is impossible to stick with and designed for you to fail).
HAES not only encourages intuitive eating and this non-diet approach to food, it acknowledges that weight loss attempts are unnecessary and typically unsuccessful. Any time we allow weight loss to become part of the picture, it becomes the whole picture – and then people get lost in one number that actually isn’t related to their health at all. HAES focuses on behaviors, not weight – and it’s shown to be overall more effective at improving lab values (while keeping people sane!) than weight loss approaches. I really don’t think I could practice any other way!”
Amy Shen- RD, LD
“I practice an intuitive eating, non-diet approach for many reasons. One of those being: science! Nutrition is first and foremost a science, and a rather new and ever-evolving one at that. I hesitate to say I “believe” in IE + HAES because I don’t view scientific research as a set of beliefs, but rather, supportive evidence that this is how I can provide the best care for patients.
Included in this research is that weight loss does not automatically equal health. Rather, forming health-promoting habits, as both HAES + IE suggest, can have a much bigger, sustainable impact on our health. On top of that, 95% of diets don’t even work in the long term. They often cause weight cycling, metabolic damage, and unhealthy relationships with food. As a healthcare provider, prescribing something that doesn’t work, let alone one that may cause additional harm is something I try to avoid.
In addition, I’ve had my own personal experience with disordered eating. I’ve seen firsthand how switching from the restrict-binge cycle of dieting to an intuitive eating approach can improve the health of the whole person. This includes emotional, psychological, physical, + social areas of wellness, not just our body size. Because, ultimately, our weight + BMI are not good indicators of health. Instead, I strive to use intuitive eating principles to meet patients where they are in their unique food journey. And to also consider other real life factors such as taste preferences, food availability, financial concerns, cultural differences, familial or work responsibilities, time constraints, and many others. I would be doing my patients a disservice if I did not take all areas of wellness into account when providing nutrition counseling and recommendations!”
Jamie Magdic- Registered Dietitian Intern (Class of 2018)
“After finding intuitive eating and the HAES movement, there was no turning back….plain and simple. My passion has always been health…for as long as I can remember. At a young age of 14, I started my health journey and set out on the search to find out what it meant to be healthy. This journey was full of many battles, mistakes, and confusion. It was also full of times of enlightenment and invaluable experiences. As I approached my mid-twenties, this complete love of health turned into somewhat of a life mission I couldn’t ignore. I started to find that to live my purpose, I needed to use my passion and this knowledge I have acquired to help people find…what I like to call…their happy healthy. One of the many things I learned to be true about health was that true health creates happiness and elevates your life. When I discovered IE and HAES, I turned a corner and there was absolutely no turning back. I knew that these practices would give me the last thing I needed to bring my clients ultimate health and happiness, allowing them to leave me with a toolbox of knowledge, confidence, self-awareness, freedom, and above all else- happiness. When people find their happy healthy, they thrive. They do the things that excite them, they find their voice, they start trusting their bodies, they feel confident…life is just better. IE and HAES allows them to take all the awesomeness of their life and make it even awesome-r. So, why do I promote HAES over calorie counting, diets, and restriction? It is simple…for me, there is no other way. If my goal for clients is to help them lead the healthiest, happiest lives, then I have no other choice. HAES and IE take into account many things that traditional calorie counting and the pursuit of weight loss do not. These practices take into account the whole person, their individual and unique needs, and the fact that health is holistic and is determined by so much more than calories and pounds. I promote HAES and IE because I believe in promoting self-compassion, self-acceptance, food freedom, confidence, freeing up mental space for bigger and better things, whole-self health, and above all else- happiness.”
Lauren Newman- Dietetic Intern
“As a RD(2be) I choose to practice from a HAES and weight-neutral approach because I don’t believe that weight is a good indicator of health. To me, weight changes are a symptom (not the cause) of whatever is going on inside a person’s body, and their body size tells me absolutely nothing about their health or nutrition status. I strongly believe that research showing association between weight and disease risk or improvement in biomarkers is only showing correlation; there’s almost always an underlying factor/health behavior (nutrition, physical activity, stress, sleep, etc…) that can actually be attributed to improved outcomes. In fact, the stress that weight cycling (which is what inevitably happens for most people who attempt to change their body size) puts on our bodies is actually so damaging to our health that the consequences outweigh any potential benefits of pursuing weight loss in the first place!”
Lindsay Koonce- MPH-RD student at UNC-Chapel Hill
Maddie White- Dietetic Intern
“Why do I believe in HAES and Intuitive Eating? Oh boy, where to even begin!
Megan Price- Dietetic Intern and Owner of Run Whole Nutrition Counseling
That’s all she wrote…
Wow! Am I right?! I hope you got as much out of this post as I did! These are some amazing women, and I so hope you will follow them on social media, read their blogs, and interact with them- they’re all so welcoming, friendly, knowledgeable, and compassionate! I’m so so lucky to have met these wonderful ladies (all thanks to Instagram!) and have them as a part of the Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size community!
Have something you’d like me to write about? Let me know here!