If you read only one book to educate yourself on the truth about body image, weight and health, and the principles of Health At Every Size (HAES (R)), this is the book.
Linda Bacon is a psychologist and exercise scientist. Most importantly to me she is a woman who has battled her way up and down the scales, with negative self- and body-image and knows what it’s all really about. This makes her a refreshing voice in an industry where many of the practitioners are naturally slim and think it’s easy (and ‘ normal’) to stay that way. (Which doesn’t mean they have an easy or healthy relationship with their bodies or food, but that’s another story.)
Linda understands the newly-emerging research into body fat and the biology and wisdom of our bodies. In Health At Every Size she explains the science in plain English for the rest of us.
Her most important message – and one that I’m completely in alignment with – is that your body will settle at its normal natural weight when you get out of the way. stop managing every aspect of it, and tune in to your body’s signals.
The Principles of Health At Every Size
You can adopt lifestyle habits that will support you in achieving robust good health that are summed up in the principles of Health At Every Size (R):
- Accepting and respecting the diversity of body shapes and sizes.
- Recognizing that health and well-being are multi-dimensional and that they include physical, social, spiritual, occupational, emotional, and intellectual aspects.
- Promoting all aspects of health and well-being for people of all sizes.
- Promoting eating in a manner which balances individual nutritional needs, hunger, satiety, appetite, and pleasure.
- Promoting individually appropriate, enjoyable, life-enhancing physical activity, rather than exercise that is focused on a goal of weight loss.
Adopting the principles of HAES (R) will free you from the nagging obsession with food that many women accept as ‘normal’. Food obsession is a natural, predictable side-effect of starvation, as the Minnesota Starvation Study proved.
I always suggest you use EFT to help release the negative beliefs about your body, as you also deprogram yourself from the half-truths the diet industry has been feeding us for decades and reprogram your mind with new information from books like this one.
Get Ready to Get Angry
Be warned though: you may well get really angry about the lies you’ve been told for years, about the pain and grief and despair you’ve felt as you’ve tried to force your body to conform to The Official Body, and about all the time, life energy and money you’ve wasted.
I was past that stage when I found Linda’s work (it was published in 2008), I’d already tapped it out. But as I read I remembered all of that pain and self-criticism and gee it was ugly…. and if you can read this book without going through those feelings I’ll be really surprised.
The chapters cover healthy weight, emotional starvation, resisting weight loss, eternal hunger, and fat and food politics. With that groundwork laid, Linda then moves into the program itself, with the story of how the Health at Every Size Program developed and what it means for your health.
Health at Every Size then moves through a program of learning to respect yourself body and soul, take care of your hungers (note the plural!), live well, change your food tastes, and finally, solve your weight “problem”.
This is not a book about giving the finger to our thin-is-best culture, which is what you often see in the fat-o-sphere.
The book and the Health at Every Size principles really can change your life because it might just open the door to you truly accepting yourself just as you are.