HAES or Wellness Not Weight?

HAES - Health At Every Size

The Health at Every Size (HAES) movement promotes acceptance and appreciation of one’s body, even if you’re overweight.

It encourages overweight people to shift their focus from losing weight to other healthy habits, such as eating healthy foods and getting more exercise. As a wellness coach, I can’t argue with that. However, I think the focus needs to shift from Health at Every Size (HAES) to Wellness Not Weight (WNW) as many people advocating this philosophy have lost sight of its initial intent.
 
The message that I preach to all of my patients whether they suffer from Anorexia, Bulimarexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder or obesity is to eat the foods that promote wellness instead of disease and move their bodies. When it comes to obesity, I strongly encourage patients to lose the “diet” mentality, which is all about losing weight, and rarely has anything to do with wellness.
 
Unfortunately, most of my obese clients have been brain-washed into believing that dieting is the way to go so they do not necessarily come with the idea of being healthier.  They may even recognize the risk factors for being obese, i.e. that body weight is strongly correlated with the risk of various diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, inflammation, and high blood pressure, high blood sugar, or high blood fats. But even when they do recognize these risk factors, their goal is not to be healthy by managing these threats, it is simply to lose the weight. 
 
Why? Because we have a diet mentality in the U.S. that focuses on the short term – losing weight – instead of the long-term – achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. What do I mean by a diet mentality? It sounds something like this in your head “I can do anything for a few weeks, or even a few months, as long as I lose the weight.  Then I can go back to:
Eating my favorite snacks
Eating at my favorite restaurants
Getting my favorite fast foods
Drinking soda, sweetened coffee drinks or alcohol
 
If you are saying to yourself right now “What’s wrong with that?”  Here’s what’s wrong:
 
The U.S. food supply is polluted causing epidemic obesity along with a plethora of other life-threatening conditions and illnesses.  Americans have the distinction of being the wealthiest unhealthiest country in the world.  We are number 1 for obesity, we have the highest rate of infant mortality compared to other wealthy developed nations, and our life expectancy decreased 3 of the last 4 years.  Our children, 1/3 of whom are already obese, will have shorter lives than their parents.  These things don’t usually happen unless there has been a nuclear event, or some other catastrophic environmental threat to the population.
 
So why is it happening here in the good old US of A?  Because we have abdicated the responsibility for good health to a government that is owned by those who would poison us for profit. Our typical bill of fare is obesogenic (causes weight gain,) carcinogenic (causes cancer,) autogenic (causes autoimmune disease, the 8th leading cause of death among women,)  and oh yes, highly addicting (we can’t stop eating it.) Glyphosate (thank you Monsanto/Bayer) is the biggest problem as it is sprayed on crops that are in almost every processed food, as well as on some of our fruits and vegetables and many of our grains.
 
We use 34% of the world supply of Glyphosate, while representing only 4% of the world population, because most other nations recognize the danger and protect their citizens. (Read “Explaining the Genetic Modification of Our Food“) We also eat GMOs at a higher rate than any other country in the world making guinea pigs of our children given the complete lack of testing that indicates GMOs are safe. (Read “How Many GMOs Do You Think You Are Eating?)
 
My position with all of my patients, regardless of their diagnosis or weight is that they need to eat clean food.  What do I mean by “clean food”? I mean 100% grass-fed, wild-caught, 100% organic and minimally processed food. 
 
Clean food behaves.  It does not cause bloating or a food-baby.  It does not cause uncontrolled weight gain. (Really) In a study comparing 1200 polluted calories with 1200 clean calories, the clean calories won, causing significantly less weight gain. Clean food does not cause high cholesterol, cancer or autoimmune disease, but Glyphosate does and most of the foods you eat in restaurants, coffee shops and bars is swimming in it.
 
As much as I appreciate the goal of the HAES movement and as much as I abhor fat shaming, I have a problem when they say that you can be “metabolically healthy” as long as you have normal blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.   This simply is not true, according to a new study, as even those meeting these criteria still had a 28% increased risk of heart disease simply by being overweight. “We conclude that there is no such thing as being healthy obese,” said lead researcher Camille Lassalle.

How About Wellness Not Weight (WNW) Instead of Heathy at Every Size (HAES)

When my patients come in and want help losing weight, they want the weight gone now. As soon as I start talking about losing 1 pound a month, changing the way they think about food, learning to cook and the deliciousness of fruits and vegetables their eyes glaze over. Especially when I mention exercise.  Why? Because they are lazy, unmotivated, or unconcerned about their health?  OF COURSE NOT! It infuriates me to see the stigma that the obese individual endures.

It is because they are misinformed (don’t have the right information) or disinformed (are purposely fed the wrong information). Most Americans are both misinformed and disinformed when it comes to the safety of their foods and the impact that polluted food is having on their health. Research has shown us that even their doctors, many of whom are also overweight, do not pass along good information to the obese patient.

But in many cases the obese individual is even more misinformed/disinformed because they are inundated by the diet industry.  Did you know that the diet industry is a 60 billion dollar a year industry that fails 95% of the time?  Don’t even get me started on the crap they put out to the public.
 
Lose up to 18 lbs. fast and live healthy!

Lose 16 pounds in your first 4 weeks!

Get rid of up to 9 lbs. and 5 inches in the first month!

These banners come from 3 of the top 10 diet organizations as ranked by US NEWS.  When I filled out the form for one of them saying that I weighed 123 lbs. at 5’7” and wanted to lose 10 pounds they sent me the following message:
 

LET’S CRUSH YOUR GOAL!
Your Personal Results:

Your BMI is 19
 
LOW 18.5
HEALTHY  25
HIGH 30
VERY HIGH. 30+
 
Lose up to 13 pounds and
7 inches overall in your first month.

(According to them, I am in the Low BMI range, but they still want to sell me a diet? Huh? So much for personal attention and good advice.)

Dieting does not work!  It will never work. So then, what happens? We blame the victims of this racket.  We discriminate against the obese individual in every way imaginable.  People in larger bodies (i.e. people who wear plus sizes) face consistent, systemic oppression—not just body-shaming by the local jerk at work,  but by an entire culture that makes it difficult or impossible to get good health care, or find clothes that fit and look professional and forget about equal access to employment, and all of the other basic human rights that most people take for granted.

No wonder they want a quick fix. They have been told again and again they can have one and they are understandably disappointed in me when I can’t deliver. I can handle that.  What I hate is that they blame themselves when they fail to lose the weight and keep it off.

Wellness Not Weight 

We each have to take responsibility for ourselves which starts with no longer supporting an industry that happily poisons us. I am talking now about the food industry.  Poison for Profit was going to be the name of my book, but it was already taken. Eat organic, wild-caught, grass-fed minimally processed foods. And yes, you can afford it.  It is a lot less expensive than medical bills.  Buy in bulk, start a buyer’s club, support local farmers that grow organic. Learn how to cook food you truly love to eat.  Eat a sweet juicy orange or a Japanese yam.  Have some fish once in a while.  By all means buy organic. The more we support organic farmers and conscientious food manufacturers the sooner we put the Monsanto’s of the world out of business.

You’ve got this! But, if you embark on this wellness journey and ever find yourself in need of support REACH OUT! Contact Dr. Norton at 513-205-6543 today! We are here, we can help!

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Materials contained on this site are made available solely for educational purposes and as part of an effort to raise general awareness of the psychological treatments available to individuals with health issues. These materials are not intended to be, and are not a substitute for, direct professional medical or psychological care based on your individual condition and circumstances.  Dr. J. Renae Norton does not diagnose or treat medical conditions. While this site may contain descriptions of pharmacological, psychiatric and psychological treatments, such descriptions and any related materials should not be used to diagnose or treat a mental health problem without consulting a qualified mental health care provider.  You are advised to consult your medical health provider about your personal questions or concerns.