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What is HAES (Health at Every Size)?

The Health At Every Size (HAES) is an evolving approach  to public health that is an alternative to the weight-centered approach to treating clients and patients of all sizes. HAES is also a movement that works to end weight discrimination and promote size acceptance. In doing so, the approach attempts to lessen the use of weight loss and thinness as a representation of someone’s wellness and health, which can ignore unhealthy relationships with food ( bulimia and anorexia).

What does HAES take into consideration in their approach?

HAES has five guiding principles in their approach:

  • Weight inclusivity: Accept and respect the inherent diversity of body shapes and sizes, rejecting idealizing or pathologizing of specific weights.
  • Health Enhancement: Support policies that improve and provide equitable access to information and services, and improve human well-being, including attention to physical, economic, social, spiritual, and emotional facets.
  • Eating for well-being: Re-frame eating to consider hunger, nutritional needs, and pleasure rather than externally regulated eating plan.
  • Life-enhancing movement: Supporting physical activities that allow people of all sizes, abilities, and interests to engage in enjoyable movement.
  • Respectful care: Acknowledge biases and work to end weight discrimination.

Why is HAES Important?

HAES has a holistic approach to wellness and health that is not characterized as simply the absence of physical or mental illness, limitation, or disease. The HAES approach promotes balanced eating, life-enhancing physical activity, and respect for the diversity of body shapes and sizes. This is important considering that medical, nutritional, and dietary approaches are influences by the wider societal, cultural, disability, and sex based expectations on what bodies should look and move like. Acknowledging these biases with the HAES approach aims to create a safe and open space where bodies are accepted as they are and oriented towards well-being in a different way.

This page is also part of the Roamers Therapy Glossary; a collection of mental-health related definitions that are written by our therapists.

While our offices are currently located at the South Loop neighborhood of Downtown Chicago, Illinois, we also welcome and serve clients for online therapy from anywhere in Illinois and Washington, D.C. Clients from the Chicagoland area may choose in-office or online therapy and usually commute from surrounding areas such as River North, West Loop, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lake View, Rogers Park, Logan Square, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Little Village, Bronzeville, South Shore, Hyde Park, Back of the Yards, Wicker Park, Bucktown and many more. You can visit our contact page to access detailed information on our office location.