Monday, October 1, 2012

Health At Every Size: A New Model for Embracing Size Diversity

Use nutrition information as a tool to lead a healthier life rather than merely as a means to lose weight.

Three curvy women smiling underneath a palm tree.
You can be healthy at any size.

When you woke up this morning, how healthy did you feel, and what did you use to determine it? Size and weight are often viewed as barriers to health, but people can lead active and healthy lives at any size.

Supporters of the Health at Every Size movement believe a “healthy weight” is the weight your body is at when living a reasonable and balanced life. Linda Bacon, PhD, the author of Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight, encourages readers to adopt health changes to improve their quality of life, and not for the sake of weight loss. Bacon is a professor, recipient of U.S. government research grants, and a credentialed scientist who believes that medical and social discrimination can cause health problems.

The following are the main principles of the Health at Every Size model:

  1. Accepting and respecting the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes
  2. Eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety and appetite.
  3. Finding the joy in moving one’s body and becoming more physically vital.

How can this model impact you today? Begin to use nutrition information as a tool, and remember that all foods can fit into your lifestyle. Surround yourself with friends, health care providers, and role models who promote nonrestrictive messages.

— Angela Waco, MS, dietetic intern, and Debra Boutin, MS, RD, chair and dietetic internship director, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.

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