So, you’re curious about what it’s like to work with a HAES dietitian. You’ve heard about intuitive eating and Health at Every Size™ (HAES), and they sound great. But if you’re being honest, don’t totally understand what HAES is. You think you could benefit from working with a HAES dietitian. But, you’re not sure how. Here’s what you need to know.
HAES is a much-needed inclusive approach to healthcare.
The first thing you need to know is that our current healthcare paradigm isn’t inclusive. For starters, 12.1% of Americans were uninsured in 2019, per the CDC. And, 43.4% of adults were underinsured in 2020. This means they had partial insurance but not enough money to cover out-of-pocket expenses. Racism is also extremely prevalent in healthcare, as is discrimination against trans people.
HAES aims to be inclusive for all people, but it’s primarily concerned with ending weight stigma. That is, discrimination against people in larger bodies. This is a problem in all parts of our culture, but weight discrimination is especially prevalent in healthcare. A 2012 article found that doctors and nurses have significantly more anti-fat bias than the general public. That’s especially problematic, since 2015 review found providers’ anti-fat bias to be associated with lower-quality care and health outcomes. So, it’s not a huge surprise that this 2018 review that higher-weight patients are more likely to avoid healthcare than those at lower weight.
HAES rejects diets and weight loss goals. Instead, it supports people in appreciating, trusting, and taking care of their bodies. A HAES dietitian helps you learn healthy behaviors without focusing on weight.
A HAES dietitian will help you learn the difference between healthy behaviors and diet behaviors.
Most people seek out dietitian counseling as a way to take control of their health instead of always feeling out-of-control and helpless around food. Unfortunately, a dietitian who doesn’t align with HAES and intuitive eating might end up prescribing the same restrictive diet behaviors that you’re trying so hard to break free from.
That’s why working with a HAES dietitian is so helpful. HAES dietitians don’t tell you what to eat. Instead, they listen to your experiences with food and help you learn how to best care for your body. They teach intuitive eating, which means abandoning food rules and weight loss goals. Instead, you tune into your own hunger, fullness, and cravings. Frankly, intuitive eating is life-changing.
Intuitive eating helps you appreciate and care for your body, no matter its size.
If you’re looking for expert intuitive eating guidance, work with a HAES dietitian. Plenty of people claim to be intuitive eating dietitians. Unfortunately, not all of them embrace the fact that you can’t use intuitive eating for weight loss. Weight loss isn’t realistic with any diet or eating framework. A 2011 review analyzed existing weight loss studies and found that virtually no one maintained weight loss for more than 2-5 years. A 2013 review found that between one-third and two-thirds of dieters actually regain more weight than they lost. And, a 2020 analysis of 121 studies found that virtually no dieters could sustain weight loss or health improvements for a year or more.
If a dietitian tells you that you can use intuitive eating for weight loss, they’re lying. Sure, you might lose weight when you start eating intuitively. You might also stay the same weight. Or, you could gain weight, particularly if you were very restrictive about eating beforehand. But, weight isn’t the point.
The benefits of intuitive eating are seemingly infinite, and a HAES dietitian can help you reap them. A 2013 study found that intuitive eating can improve body appreciation, self-esteem, and interoceptive awareness. It also found that intuitive eating lowers the risk of eating disorders and body shame. A 2017 survey study of over 40,000 French adults found that intuitive eaters eat more varied and nutritious diets than people who restrict their food.
Ultimately, a HAES dietitian will help you make peace with food and your body.
As a future HAES dietitian, it’s my mission to help clients abandon diets that make them feel helpless and out of control. As a journalist, I explain that HAES and intuitive eating are inclusive, life-affirming, and accessible.
In late 2021, I’m launching 1:1 counseling services.
All of my services are HAES-aligned. They’re for anyone looking to end disordered eating habits and work towards intuitive eating.
If you want to learn more about HAES and intuitive eating, sign up for my weekly newsletter. Every week, I explain the concepts in a way that’s relevant and easy to understand. Anyone on the newsletter list will be the first to know when I start enrolling 1:1 clients! If you’re looking for help making peace with food and your body, I can help you. You’ll guide our work together, since it’s about YOU. I’ll be there to guide you through the principles of intuitive eating. I’m not exaggerating when I say that learning to feed your body without guilt and shame can change your life.