Health at Every Size ® – A movement we, at Gaithersburg Counseling Center, stand by!
Health means so many different things to different people and comes in many different forms. In the 1940’s, the World Health Organization defined health as a “state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” This definition is both broad and subjective as health exists on a continuum that varies with time and circumstance for each individual. Health status should never be used to judge, oppress or determine the value of a person. Herein lies the framing for the Health at Every Size ® (HAES ®) initiative, a movement carried out by our therapists at Gaithersburg Counseling Center, who promote compassionate ways for clients of all shapes and sizes to take care of themselves.
The Health at Every Size ® (HAES ®) movement celebrates differences in people (size, age, race, ethnicity, gender identity, dis/ability, sexual orientation, religion, class and other human attributes) and “helps us advance social justice, create an inclusive and respectful community, and support people of all sizes in finding compassionate ways to take care of themselves” (https://haescommunity.com/). This movement encourages people to be active, both physically and mentally and to “eat in a flexible and attuned matter that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite.” (https://haescommunity.com/).
HAES ® Principles are:
- Weight Inclusivity: Accept and respect the inherent diversity of body shapes and sizes and reject the idealizing or pathologizing of certain weights. We do not judge people based on their size!
- Health Enhancement: Support health policies that improve and equalize access to information and services, and personal practices that improve human well-being, including attention to individual physical, economic, social, spiritual, emotional and other needs. We support people in their efforts to improve their health!
- Respectful Care: Acknowledge our biases and work to end weight discrimination, weight stigma and weight bias. Provide information and services from an understanding that socio-economic status, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and other identities impact weight stigma and support environments that address these inequities. We respect people based on who they are as a whole person!
- Eating for Well-Being: Promote flexible, individualized eating based on hunger, satiety, nutritional needs, and pleasure, rather than any externally regulated plan focused on weight control. We encourage people to nourish themselves based on nutritional needs and desires!
- Life-Enhancing Movement: Support physical activities that allow people of all sizes, abilities, and interests to engage in enjoyable movement, to the degree that they choose. We promote movement for the mind and body!
The HAES ® community is growing and provides a wealth of online and physical resources so be sure to visit their website at https://haescommunity.com.
If you are seeking a therapist that subscribes to the HAES ® approach, please contact us at Gaithersburg Counseling Center: (240) 274-5680 or Admin@Healingllc.com. Or you can visit our website for more information at www.GaithersburgCounseling.com.
By Sara Rothleder, Director of Operations, Gaithersburg Counseling Center &
Amy Hooper, Owner, Gaithersburg Counseling Center