Working on your relationship with food and your body can be challenging, which is why so many seek support from a registered HAES provider.
We are a Perth-based practice of dietitians who specialise in providing support for people with eating disorders and weight concerns, helping them learn a new way of connecting to their food and their bodies
WHAT IS A HAES DIETITIAN?
For those who are new to the concept, Health at Every Size (HAES) is a care approach that promotes the health and well-being of individuals of all sizes, without discriminating or stigmatising based on weight. Instead of emphasising weight loss or dieting, HAES focuses on overall health and wellness by encouraging self-care practices such as intuitive eating, joyful movement, and self-acceptance.
The core principles of HAES are as follows:
- 1Weight inclusivity. HAES recognises that people of all shapes and sizes deserve respect and care, without discrimination based on weight.
- 2Health enhancement. Instead of focusing solely on weight loss, HAES prioritises overall health and well-being through evidence-based practices such as intuitive eating, joyful movement, and stress reduction.
- 3Respectful care. Healthcare providers should offer compassionate, non-judgmental care to individuals of all sizes, without perpetuating weight stigma or discrimination.
- 4Eating for well-being. HAES promotes a positive relationship with food by encouraging individuals to eat in a way that nourishes their body and mind, rather than adhering to strict diets or restrictive eating patterns.
- 5Life-enhancing movement. Rather than prescribing specific exercise regimens or promoting weight loss through physical activity, HAES encourages enjoyable movement that improves quality of life and supports overall health.
We aim to support our clients in pursuit of improved health, to the extent that clients are able and willing to do so—we will never pathologise clients, or push them toward restrictive diets.
SO CAN A HAES DIETITIAN HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT?
Many people seek out the help of a dietitian when they want to lose weight, but can a HAES dietitian help them achieve this goal? The answer is not a simple yes or no. Working as dietitians under a HAES paradigm means that we don’t celebrate the pursuit of weight loss.
HAES(R) emphasises improving health outcomes and quality of life through sustainable lifestyle behaviours rather than focusing solely on weight loss as the key to better health.
Sometimes making these changes results in weight loss and sometimes it doesn’t.
It's important to approach weight loss as a potential side effect of healthy behaviours rather than the primary goal. It’s not that we’re against weight loss, but understand that weight loss is not a behaviour that you can choose to do or not do. A person’s weight is the outcome of several factors and is not directly correlated with health.
By engaging in health-promoting behaviours, people can experience improvements in health markers such as blood pressure, blood glucose, and cholesterol levels, even if weight loss is not achieved. Ultimately, HAES dietitians shift the focus from weight loss to overall health and well-being.
WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT FROM A CONSULTATION WITH ONE OF OUR HAES DIETITIANS?
In the first session, we aim to simply get to know you and listen to your experiences with food and weight, along with any other illnesses or medical conditions. We also try to establish how you like to be worked with, and how your past experiences have been when it comes to working with people on your relationship to food or your body.
We take a non-judgemental approach. We understand that building trust takes time, and we aim to show you from the very beginning that you are safe in our sessions. After the initial session or sessions, we prepare an assessment of what you’ve brought to the session and some suggestions on ways to resolve your concerns.
If you’d like to continue working together, we invite you to collaborate with us on your care. Only you know what your life is like and what can work for you, so we want to make sure you are part of the decision-making. Then we proceed, focusing on both eating and on body image. We believe it’s impossible to talk about changing relationships with food without discussing what you might experience when making those changes.
WHY USE A HAES APPROACH?
WHAT DOES IT INVOLVE?
It can seem pretty radical to not focus on trying to change your weight, and instead focus on eating behaviours. Letting go of that pursuit doesn’t happen overnight, and we’re not expecting you to be totally on board when we meet you.
Initially, consultations are usually done weekly. As you gain confidence and require less support, this frequency is often lowered to fortnightly or monthly, depending on your individual circumstances. Working under a HAES approach involves work on the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ we eat, not just the ‘what’. We will help you:
- Develop skills in recognising and responding to your body cues (e.g., hunger, fullness, and general appetite).
- Understand your body’s food needs
- Challenge food and dieting rules
- Overcome barriers to eating well
- Reduce feelings of compulsivity and craving
- Help you balance needs for health and pleasure
- Develop self-compassion
- Tackle body dissatisfaction