The president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dr. Evelyn Crayton, visited Sacramento last month. She wanted to hear our concerns and priorities for the Academy. So… I mustered up the courage to write a passionate letter about Health at Every Size® (HAES®), and read it aloud at the event.
In this post, I will share segments from the letter as I describe my experience speaking at the event.
Our nation’s declared “war on obesity” has resulted in significant harm to individuals across the size spectrum physically, emotionally and socially. Rates of eating disorders, body dissatisfaction and weight stigma are at an all-time high…
A week before the event, I e-mailed the letter to my colleagues on the HAES listserv for their input. I was shocked by the outpouring of support I received! The authors of my favorite books, and other major HAES leaders responded to voice their support.
…Many dietitians are embracing the Health at Every Size approach. The Association for Size Diversity and Health is a growing, international professional organization composed of members who are dedicated to the HAES principles…
I was nervous on the day of the event. How would Dr. Crayton and the 77 other dietitians in the room respond to my message? Health at Every Size goes against the ‘conventional’ approach we were taught in school. But the support of my HAES colleagues gave me strength. They were there with me in spirit, and I couldn’t let them down.
…The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recognizes Health at Every Size in their position statement on treating eating disorders. The paper states: “Prevention efforts [of eating disorders] could emphasize concepts in the paradigms of health at every size and intuitive eating… To promote body acceptance and lessen risk of disordered eating, RD messages should support health-centered behaviors, rather than weight-centered dieting…”
I saw many audience members nodding their heads as I spoke. I think most dietitians have seen the futility of dieting in their practice. Afterwards, Dr. Crayton commended me for speaking my truth and encouraged us all to continue having the ‘fierce conversations.’ I left the letter with Dr. Crayton, along with a copy of Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift.
… My call to action for the Academy is to change the message from weight loss to health promotion. I would also like to see the Academy support Health at Every Size as a valid alternative to pursuing weight loss, and to encourage more dietitians to learn about the HAES principles and supporting research. The unintended consequences of weight-centered programs are too great. It is time for a paradigm shift to the Health at Every Size approach.
I feel proud for taking a stand, and encouraged to keep the momentum going. Next month, I will speak to nutrition students at UC Davis about Health at Every Size. Next year, I plan to host a fundraiser for the Association for Size Diversity and Health. And someday, I hope to recruit a celebrity spokesperson for HAES.
I believe Health at Every Size will be mainstream someday. As Dr. Crayton said to me, you can’t keep the truth down. Once the seeds of truth have been planted, they will grow into the light.
Read the entire letter here: HAES message to the Academy.