Non-diet, health-at-every-size, counseling and programming challenging negative food thoughts, judgements, and perceived notions about health & wellness. Approaches involve body positivity, size shaming awareness, and the foundational 10
Intuitive Eating principles.
1. Reject the Diet Mentality
Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you the false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently. Get angry at diet culture that promotes weight loss and the lies that have led you to feel as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you gained back all of the weight. If you allow even one small hope to linger that a new and better diet or food plan might be lurking around the corner, it will prevent you from being free to rediscover Intuitive Eating.
2. Honor Your Hunger
Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Otherwise you can trigger a primal drive to overeat. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant. Learning to honor this first biological signal sets the stage for rebuilding trust in yourself and in food.
3. Make Peace with Food
Call a truce; stop the food fight! Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing. When you finally “give in” to your forbidden foods, eating will be experienced with such intensity it usually results in Last Supper overeating and overwhelming guilt.
4. Challenge the Food Police
Scream a loud no to thoughts in your head that declare you’re “good” for eating minimal calories or “bad” because you ate a piece of chocolate cake. The food police monitor the unreasonable rules that diet culture has created. The police station is housed deep in your psyche, and its loudspeaker shouts negative barbs, hopeless phrases, and guilt-provoking indictments. Chasing the food police away is a critical step in returning to Intuitive Eating.
5. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
The Japanese have the wisdom to keep pleasure as one of their goals of healthy living. In our compulsion to comply with diet culture, we often overlook one of the most basic gifts of existence—the pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience. When you eat what you really want, in an environment that is inviting, the pleasure you derive will be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content. By providing this experience for yourself, you will find that it takes just the right amount of food for you to decide you’ve had “enough.”
6. Feel Your Fullness
In order to honor your fullness, you need to trust that you will give yourself the foods that you desire. Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that show that you’re comfortably full. Pause in the middle of eating and ask yourself how the food tastes, and what your current hunger level is.
7. Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness
First, recognize that food restriction, both physically and mentally, can, in and of itself, trigger loss of control, which can feel like emotional eating. Find kind ways to comfort, nurture, distract, and resolve your issues. Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, and anger are emotions we all experience throughout life. Each has its own trigger, and each has its own appeasement. Food won’t fix any of these feelings. It may comfort for the short term, distract from the pain, or even numb you. But food won’t solve the problem. If anything, eating for an emotional hunger may only make you feel worse in the long run. You’ll ultimately have to deal with the source of the emotion.
8. Respect Your Body
Accept your genetic blueprint. Just as a person with a shoe size of eight would not expect to realistically squeeze into a size six, it is equally futile (and uncomfortable) to have a similar expectation about body size. But mostly, respect your body so you can feel better about who you are. It’s hard to reject the diet mentality if you are unrealistic and overly critical of your body size or shape. All bodies deserve dignity.
9. Movement—Feel the Difference
Forget militant exercise. Just get active and feelthe difference. Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie-burning effect of exercise. If you focus on how you feel from working out, such as energized, it can make the difference between rolling out of bed for a brisk morning walk or hitting the snooze alarm.
10. Honor Your Health—Gentle Nutrition
Make food choices that honor your health and taste buds while making you feel good. Remember that you don’t have to eat perfectly to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or become unhealthy, from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters. Progress, not perfection, is what counts.
Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resche's book Intuitive Eating, and The Intuitive Eating Workbook are available in multiple forms. I recommend the newest edition of the text as problematic phrasing have been removed as their own paradigms have shifted. Remarkable texts that have launched many away from diet culture. They offer Certification as an Intuitive Eating Counselor for those in the field of Psychology - I hold a certification with them. They also offer a Facilitator Certification for those who do not work in the field directly.
Lindo Bacon’s book Health at Every Size; available in book form and audio for easy listening when stuck in traffic. Provides answers to common questions about the relationship between weight and health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, etc., and it does a nice job of helping you handle any resistance that comes up when learning these ideas. There are some problematic sections in food politics.
Body of Truth by Harriet Brown, a respected science journalist. The book systematically unpacks why myths about weight persist in society and healthcare, and what we can do to change that.
So many others.
RESEARCH & OTHER ARTICLES
Linda Bacon & Lucy Aphramor (2011): "Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift." Nutrition Journal, 10:9.
Tracy Tylka et al. (2014): "The Weight-Inclusive versus Weight-Normative Approach to Health: Evaluating the Evidence for Prioritizing Well-Being over Weight Loss." Journal of Obesity, volume 2014.
Many other readings and resources are available.
WEBINARS & ONLINE TRAININGS
ASDAH's HAES Webinars, a wonderful collection of free presentations by leaders in the field about basic HAES principles, using HAES approaches with various populations, and more.
The Be Nourished trainings for health professionals, including basic training on how to build HAES principles into your practice, and a certification program for those who are serious about becoming weight-neutral wellness professionals.
Fiona Willer, RD's Health, Not Diets online training and workshops, which offer foundational education in HAES and the non-diet approach for dietitians.
The HAES Curriculum videos. This peer-reviewed curriculum was created as a joint venture by ASDAH, the National Association for the Advancement of Fat Acceptance, and the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior. It was designed for use in higher education, including (but not limited to) introductory and advanced health and nutrition courses and professional training programs.
The Intuitive Eating Counselor or Coach certification, by the original intuitive eating pros, Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch, MS, RD. HAES principles are integrated throughout the program, and there are certification options for both health professionals and laypeople.
The Association of Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH) holds a biannual conference devoted entirely to education about the principles of HAES, weight and size acceptance, and non-diet approaches.