Unpacking HAES Eating
I’ve been thinking a lot about HAES-style eating lately.
Eating for Health at Every Size® is so simple that it can almost be intimidating sometimes. Basically, HAES eating is a three-legged stool:
- Leg one: Eat when you’re hungry.
- Leg two: Eat what you’re hungry for.
- Leg three: Eat until you’re full.
That’s it. It seems simple, but I’ve been working on this for the last three years and it’s not always as simple as it seems. Food can have so much guilt attached to it. When guilt is in the building, it’s hard to even know when you’re hungry. I mean, if you have a thousand voices in your head asking you if you’re really hungry or maybe you’re just thirsty or maybe your adipose tissue has taken on a life of its own and is trying to trick you into believing that you’re hungry when really you aren’t at all and it’s after eight and only disgusting gluttons get hungry after eight… and… see what I mean? It’s exhausting.
Even if you can decide that the rumbly in your tumbly is hunger, if you’ve spent decades (like I have) under the spell of the idea that eating is a means to shrinking, you may have lost the ability to know what you want to eat. You had it once, I promise. When you were a little kid, you knew when you wanted something sweet or when you needed something more substantial. Your body knew when it needed carbs for energy or protein for longevity. But when you start believing that you have to pair every chocolate chip cookie with a disclaimer that you know you’ve done something wrong by eating it — things get all screwed up.
So, you’ve decided you’re hungry and you’ve figured out what you want to eat — now you’re faced with having to relearn how to trust yourself to eat. Ellyn Satter calls being able to eat a satisfying amount of food on a regular basis competent eating. On top of probably not making you lose weight, years of dieting may very well have robbed you of the instinctive ability to eat competently. If you’re busy worrying that every single bite that goes into your mouth is going to make you fat, it can mess up your internal hunger signals.
All of this is to say that I’ve decided to take the next three of my posts to unpack HAES eating principles. If you have any questions or topics about HAES eating you’d like me to address, leave a comment here or email me at shauntagrimes at gmail dot com.
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