Last week I received a question from a reader that asked why I thought I was a “rebel” for endorsing a healthy relationship to food since all RDs do this already. Great question!
First, I definitely appreciate that all RDs care about the health of their clients and want to endorse a healthy relationship to food. Many (non-HAES®) dietitians incorporate weight loss interventions along with nutrition education into their practice because weight loss is the conventional health promotion model that has been taught to us and is what is currently promoted in mainstream health care.
HAES®-minded RDs also promote health through nutrition, however we do so without a focus on weight. This is an important point, because it is at the core of HAES® principles – the nutrition intervention must never focuses on weight loss. Weight loss may occur as a result of the intervention, but it is not the intention of the intervention. HAES® is weight neutral. We do this because we know that:
- Intentional weight loss efforts (whether called dieting or “lifestyle changes”) have a dismal success rate – most studies show that only the tiniest fraction (around 5%) of people manage to maintain significant weight loss longer than 3-5 years, and many people regain even more weight than they lost in the first place. There are no studies that show that long term (>5 years) significant weight loss is possible for a majority of people who lose weight.
- Food restriction tends to create unhealthy relationships with food. This has even been shown to be true in rats.
- Healthy behaviors (eating fruits and veg, exercise, not smoking, moderate alcohol consumption) are a better predictor of health than BMI.
Not focusing on weight loss runs contrary to the conventional health model which puts weight loss at the forefront of the intervention. HAES®, the alternative to prescribed weight loss, focuses on promoting being peaceful in one’s body while working toward health. In that way, it is unique.
However, this question helped me to reach the conclusion to a thought that had been rattling around my brain for the last week: this blog is not about me (although I’ll definitely continue to relay information through my stories and perspective), it’s about not dieting. To that end (and a few others), I am changing the name of the blog to Dare To Not Diet to better reflect that. Because not dieting in our current weight loss-obsessed culture is daring and I want to celebrate and support that daring here.
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