Health at Every Size®

Health at Every Size® or HAES® has been the foundation for care at Opal since it’s opening in 2012.

Opal Interior by Natasha Komoda 2020 DSC_7594

What is Health at Every Size®?

Health at Every Size, HAES® is a paradigm shift away from the traditional, conventional approach to health.  It supports people in adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being (rather than weight control).

From ASDAH (Association for Size Diversity and Health): 

“Our culture’s declared “war on obesity” has resulted in significant harm to individuals across the size spectrum both physically and emotionally/socially, through declination of health care coverage, denial of routine health screening procedures, and increased stigmatization. Measures of body weight/size do not accurately reflect an individual’s health status and often lead to ineffective interventions rather than efforts that enhance health and wellness.

The Health At Every Size® (HAES®) approach is a continuously evolving alternative to the weight-centered approach to treating clients and patients of all sizes. It is also a movement working to promote size-acceptance, to end weight discrimination, and to lesson the cultural obsession with weight loss and thinness. The HAES® approach promotes balanced eating, life-enhancing physical activity, and respect for the diversity of body shapes and sizes.” — Health At Every Size® and HAES® are registered trademarks of the Association for Size Diversity and Health and used with permission.

Research Articles: 

Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift + The Weight-Inclusive versus Weight-Normative Approach to Health: Evaluating the Evidence for Prioritizing Well-Being over Weight Loss.

The Health at Every Size Principles are:

Source: Association for Size Diversity and Health

Weight inclusivity

Health enhancement

Respectful care

Eating for wellbeing

Life-enhancing movement

Health at Every Size® is not:

–NOT saying health is a moral imperative

-NOT saying all people are healthy, but just that we cannot judge a person’s health from across the room or from the number on a scale

–NOT saying that nutrition and exercise have no impact on health, but rather there are many factors that impact health (some individual and some systemic)

–NOT anti-weight loss, it is a weight-neutral approach to health

–NOT saying that weight never has an impact on health

–NOT a means to “have an excuse” and “give up”, but rather a sustainable approach to overall health

–NOT just about intuitive eating

–NOT ONLY for those in larger sized bodies, since societal views on weight and health impact people in all body sizes

–NOT ONLY for those with binge eating disorder, since facing one’s biases around weight is an essential part of recovery from all eating disorders

-NOT applicable only in healthcare but can also apply in personal, social,  and educational environments.

How Opal integrates HAES® in their eating disorder treatment approach?  

When one seeks healing from food, body and exercise concerns, one deserves to receive respectful care.

Opal aims to be conscious of bias, conscious of our own selves, conscious of our environment, conscious of our language, and conscious of our story with food, weight and exercise.

When we are conscious in these ways,  we can better meet ourselves and each other in authenticity, transparency and vulnerability. We can see real people that come in different sized bodies, eating different kinds of food, that have traveled different roads, and have dealt with unique stressors. We don’t as easily get distracted by weight, BMI and culturally normative morals around health. Instead, care and support are provided which aims to have each person be honored and respected.

Since it’s founding in 2012, Opal has been rooted in Health at Every Size. Staff, services and facilities aim to align with this approach. We are not perfect in this effort and mistakes are made. We work hard to repair harm when it is done but this work will continue to be in progress. We invest in the following areas in our hope to make Opal an inclusive space for bodies of all size.

  • Educating staff on Health at Every Size®.
  • Educating incoming clients on Health at Every Size®, weight stigma, and thin privilege. Please visit the weight-inclusive resource page for more reading on these topics. 
  • Offer groups aligned with HAES®, such as but not limited to: Health at Every Size® Didactic, Body Wisdom, Exercise + Sport Process Group, Nutrition Education,  
  • Interrupting microaggressions that are harmful to those in bigger bodies.