HAES vs. Weight Management
An interesting thing has been happening lately. Some prominent doctors have started (at least occasionally) sounding like...
I go back and forth on my opinion of this. Is our message being co-opted and twisted by the medical establishment, or are attitudes changing for the better? Is the weight centered paradigm finally shifting?
Here's something very HAES-like from Dr. Rick Kausman.
Dr Rick Kausman is a medical doctor who is recognised as the Australian
pioneer of the person-centred approach to healthy weight management. Rick
has written two books including the award-winning 'If Not Dieting, Then
What?', he is the creator of a number of other resources, and has had
several articles on healthy weight management published in peer-reviewed
journals. Dr Rick is a Director of the Butterfly Foundation and a Fellow of
the Australian College of Psychological Medicine.
He talks about "everyday foods" and "sometimes foods." He talks about "weight management" rather than "weight loss" (or HAES, for that matter). Part of me is really suspicious of that terminology, but I have to admit that it would be easy to frame the same behaviors I would call HAES as weight management, since for me, a fairly stable weight - over decades - has been a side effect of HAES. And to be completely honest, yeah. There are foods that I enjoy but don't eat very often or only eat in small quantites because my body doesn't feel good when I eat them or because they're very heavy. I guess those could be framed as 'sometimes foods.'
Anyway, this HAES/weight management thing seems like it might be worth discussing. The relationship between fat acceptance and weight management is complicated. I'm pretty sure that a significant number of people in the fat acceptance movement have been below their maximum weights for quite a while, but are still fat. There are many of us that sorta kinda manage our weight the way we'd be expected to if we were thin - just listening to our bodies and striking a balance. I call it HAES and I try not focus on weight or size, but I have to admit that it's convenient to have a stable weight and I'm glad it's a side effect of HAES for me.
In the end, the difference between HAES and "weight management" can be in the intent and the focus. The two can look very similar from outside. HAES is meant to be 100% weight-neutral, but in this society, 100% weight-neutrality is difficult. Is HAES-like behavior that's conceptualized as weight management really so different? Maybe it's not complete weight neutrality that's the most important; maybe it's simply the removal of weight or BMI-based goals. If mental health, energy levels, and medical numbers other than BMI are priortized and if the goal is not to reach a certain prescribed weight, then damn. It is indeed very close to HAES, and it might help a lot of people make peace with their bodies and find ways to feel better, both physically and mentally.
Then I remind myself that "health" is a social construct that's being used as a bludgeon in our society, and that maybe the people on the fat acceptance side who have an ideological problem with HAES ("Health At Every Size") have it for exactly this reason - that it can intersect with the softer side of the medicalization of fat bodies.
What do you think?