Posts Tagged ‘Diet’

Health at Every Size – this man’s take

Today I’m going to talk about Health at Every Size and what this means to me. I’m going to mention the word diet a few times along the way. Right now so that there is no confusion, I want you to interpret the word ‘diet’ as meaning “what someone (or something for that matter) eats” not “the restriction of food intake to try to lose weight”. All animals have a diet, like squirrels live on a diet of nuts and berries (or so cartoons taught me). Humans live on a varied diet depending on which region of the world they live in and how plentiful different types of food are (or conversely, what little food is available).

What is Health at Every Size? Wikipedia lists these three components:

  1. Self-Acceptance: Affirmation and reinforcement of human beauty and worth irrespective of differences in weight, physical size and shape.
  2. Physical Activity: Support for increasing social, pleasure-based movement for enjoyment and enhanced quality of life.
  3. Normalized Eating: Support for discarding externally-imposed rules and regimens for eating and attaining a more peaceful relationship with food by relearning to eat in response to physiological hunger and fullness cues.

The first one is what the fat acceptance movement is all about. Learning to become comfortable within your body and accepting who you are RIGHT NOW! Not in three weeks time, or in a couple of years or “when I’ve lost 10 kilos/pounds/<insert unit of measure here>” but just as you are. I think this is something that we should all be looking to achieve. I’m sure there are skinny people who don’t accept themselves either!

The second component is physical activity. It should be activity that you enjoy and that you do to enhance your life, not because someone says you have to do it to be a better person. Many people (me included) enjoy walking or running or jogging or cycling. Some dance and jump about, or play team sports. It’s about moving to have fun and enhance your life.

The final component involves diet. Eating food in an intuitive way and trying to determine what works for you. If you feel sick after eating a packet of chips, then you probably need to reconsider that. Does fried food give you the shits (literally)? Then perhaps abstain. Do you come out in a rash when you try and eat a salad? Don’t bother!

It isn’t “thou shalt eat 1200 calories a day, spread over 6 meals exactly 3 hours apart” like I’ve seen some at work do. It means eat when your body wants you to or needs you to. Eat what you think your body wants you to, and listen to the outcome. Work out what works for you and what doesn’t work.

Due to reflux, I don’t have chocolate, coffee, tea, tomatoes, too much oil or fat and some other things. I feel sick if I have them. I might lose weight because I’m not eating these things, but perhaps I’ll substitute them with other foods that will mean I maintain my weight. The goal is to eat as much nutrient rich food as my body requires, and it takes time to work out your own body cues.

Something that I feel that the Health at Every Size movement is trying to promote (as well as the fat acceptance movement) is that just because I’m fat doesn’t mean I should be treated differently. Therefore when I go to a doctor, the doctor should treat me for my symptoms/illness and not just go “lose weight, fatty”. It also means that when you go to your doctor and they suggest a treatment option that doesn’t work for you (like weight loss surgery) that you tell them this. 

If the treatment your doctor is suggesting is proven to work for the illness in question, you should consider it carefully and probably latch onto it for all it is worth. I’m not a doctor so I’m not providing medical advice. If doctors provide the same treatment options to you as to a thin person, that’s all we can ask for.

I think it is important to remember that everyone is different, so some things will work for you and some won’t. Crap happens.

What I don’t get is this: a doctor tables treatment options for an illness such as weight loss or a change in diet or move physical activity where the same options would be suggested to others that aren’t considered fat. I think sometimes as fat people we get triggered as soon as the “weight loss” flag is waved. Perhaps the issue is the “weight loss” tag has a stigma.

I guess my point is that sometimes when you are unwell, your doctor is going to say “you need to change what you are eating’ or “you need to get some more physical activity” in order to get better. As long as it isn’t “ok, so since you are fat you are sick” but “you are sick and the best treatment options are…”, I have no issue with that.

The fat acceptance movement is not the Heath at Every Size movement. Many people who consider themselves part of the fat acceptance movement do not subscribe to the three components I’ve outlined above. The common ground we share is that first one; accepting yourself as you are.

Anyway, that’s probably quite enough for now. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on the issue.


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