HAES is the New Black

By Jill Lewis

Health at Every Size (HAES) is the new approach to living a healthy, body accepting, food-loving life. It is not a diet. It is about losing the constant body shaming, body comparison, undereating, overeating, and roller coaster of dieting that so many people have torturously been putting themselves through for decades. It can be scary to decide to truly love yourself in your body and to eat those foods that are pleasurable and delicious, but HAES provides you with the tools to do so.

HAES promotes the following 8 principles:

1. Do no harm

2. Create practices and environments that are sustainable

3. Keep a process focus rather than end-goals day to day quality of life

4. Incorporate evidence in designing interventions where there is evidence

5. Include all bodies and lived experiences

6. Increase access, opportunity, freedom and social justice

7. Given that health is multidimensional, maintain a holistic approach,

8. Trust that people and bodies move towards greater health given access and opportunity.

Let’s be real here folks; this isn’t a magic pill that happens overnight. This is hard work that requires attention, compassion, love for yourself, so much of which has been pushed aside and beaten up. If you could start with one thought and one notion of compassion for yourself, you are on your way. It is easy to stay in a diet, eating disorder, self-destructive mentality. That familiarity can keep you stuck for a lifetime. HAES is “a model to support the health of people across the weight spectrum that challenges the current cultural oppression of higher-weight people.”

My challenge for you is to find your inner and outer you. We all get one incredible life on this earth. Waiting until you lose that pesky 5lbs or 100lbs in order to help your life happen just means that you keep waiting.

What if your life started right now? RIGHT NOW!?

You are beautiful, strong, intelligent and compassionate. You have the power to decide, so let’s start with not wishing our bodies away, but living and accepting them for what they are. 

Jill Lewis, MA, LCSW, CEDS provides individual, group, couples, and family therapy for people struggling with eating disorders. Jill has worked at the Renfrew Center and Balance Eating Disorder Treatment Center. She has psychodynamic training from The New York Psychoanalytic Society, as well as group training from Eastern Group Psychotherapy Society. She maintains a practice in New York City and Atlanta.