The Benefits of Working With Health at Every Size Providers
Many years ago, when I was mired in disordered eating and obsessed with the size of my body, I was lucky enough to stumble across the concept of Health At Every Size.
What is Health At Every Size?
In a nutshell: It’s a movement that believes all people, regardless of size (and race and gender identity and socioeconomic status) should be treated with dignity and respect when receiving healthcare (and at all other times, too!). It also suggests that social and cultural pressures have an even bigger impact on health than a person’s weight and that no matter what your size, you can adopt healthy behaviors and live well.
Larger bodies deserve quality health care too
In fact, once you start looking, there’s a growing body of research that suggests weight isn’t the biggest problem someone in a larger body has; rather it’s weight stigma and less attuned medical care that keeps people in larger bodies from thriving.1,2 A person in any size body should be respected and given medical care that is compassionate and addresses the issue at hand, rather than focusing on weight loss.
Health At Every Size providers for diabetes
Luckily, over the past decade, many, many health providers, including physicians, Physicians Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, and dietitians have signed up for the Health At Every Size (HAES) registry. When you see one of these professionals you know that, regardless of your size, you’ll be treated with dignity. When they sign this pledge, these providers are stating that they’ll provide compassionate care regardless of the patient’s size, value the lived experience of their patient/client, and challenge scientific and cultural assumptions.
Are you sold yet? If you are, you can head on over to the HAES registry and look for a provider near you.
If you need more convincing, though, here are some of the benefits of working with a Health At Every Size provider:
Medical advice that has nothing to do with losing weight
Go ahead and Google “poor medical care for obese patients” and you’ll find dozens of articles about patients being told they needed to lose weight when really they had a completely unrelated condition (like scoliosis or blood clots). Yes, your HAES registered provider will help you to make choices that support your health, like moving your body in a way that feels good to you and choosing foods that will best support your well-being, but you won’t be ignored or shamed for your size.
No weigh-ins (or blind weigh-ins)
I don’t know about you, but for me stepping on the scale is oftentimes the most stressful part of a doctor’s appointment! Did you know that you can ask to skip being weighed at the doctor? You can do this with any physician, but it feels especially easy with a provider who upholds the principles of Health At Every Size since HAES providers believe there are additional factors that impact health above and beyond the number on the scale. They’re not going to throw you any shade if you choose not to be weighed. Sometimes body weight may be needed for prescription drugs to make sure the dosing is correct, but even in that situation, a HAES provider will be happy to let you turn around on the scale so you don’t see the number.
Respect regardless of size
This is really the foundation of HAES. You deserve to be respected and treated like every other patient, regardless of your size (or race or sexual orientation or socioeconomic status). When you see a provider from the HAES registry, you know they’ve taken the pledge to treat their patients equally and with kindness and dignity.
HAES provider may also be a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor
The intuitive eating framework and HAES go hand in hand: Intuitive eating also honors and respects the person and doesn’t ask them to change their body size or shape. Instead, asking that you banish the diet police, move in a way that feels good, and honor your hunger. If you’re looking for a dietitian and find one that is on both the HAES registry and a certified intuitive eating counselor, you’ve struck gold! You’ll be given guidance and advice that doesn’t stress weight loss or encourage strict dieting. Yes, your dietician will work within the guidelines of what are best practices for someone living with type 2 diabetes, but their main focus won’t be weight loss or restriction.
Do you feel excited? I know I do; the thought of people of every size getting excellent medical care just makes me feel good.
Do you like to eat grilled cheese sandwiches?