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HAES is a concept that’s become popular in the last few years and it stands for Health at Every Size.

I’m now going to explain this to you using very pedagogical pictures that I’ve drawn. And while I have many, many talents (including speed reading, Trivial Pursuit and putting together IKEA furniture) I can’t draw.

thin person

This is a person. This person has a body and it looks a certain way. In fact, this person happens to be thin. That is the one thing you can tell from this picture. (or if you saw this person in real life.)

fat personThis is also a person. With a body. This body is fat or perhaps obese. Maybe even morbidly obese. That is also the only thing we observe here. A fact.

Middle person

Here’s a third person with a body. This body is somewhere in the middle.

We don’t know anything about the habits or the lifestyles of these people. We don’t know how they eat, if they ever exercise, if they smoke or their medical history. Nada.

That is, we have NO WAY of knowing if they are “healthy” or not.

What I’m trying to say here: Weight is not a way to determine if anyone’s health or not. It’s also not a determinant of their habits.

It’s impossible to look at a fat person and say that he or she is going to get diabetes and die early and has never set foot in a gym.

It’s impossible to look at a thin person and say that they probably eat a lot of vegetables.
Think about it. You probably know a thin person who never ever exercises and brags about how he/she can eat anything without gaining weight. Is that person living a healthy life?

BMI and such measures are rubbish.

Health at Every Size is about healthy habits rather than weight. Moving your body, eating a well-rounded diet, instead of staring manically at a scale.
That people are more than what they weigh and that looking at someone is not a way to see if they’re healthy or not.

Links:
Haes Commnity
Kate Harding
Linda Bacon
Body Positive
Dances with fat

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I’m really meant to be writing my thesis and nothing even resembling blogging, or fiction or fanfiction, but I wanted to link to this excellent post by a high school friend of mine (unfortunately in Swedish, but I’ll link to a google translate version as well.)

Excerpt (my translation:)

The Health Zombies have taken heatlh and exercise one step further. They wake up at 5.30 to fit in a power walk before breakfast (“quark, nuts and protein powder – so good!”), de exchange pretty much all carbs (“unnecessary”) for three slices of cucumber, five pieces of rocket salad and 5 red pepper wedges and they make sure to track each and every jogging round with RunKeeper so that they can copy that map that shows exactly how you’re run (preferably 5-6k on weekdays, to be celebrate with 10k on the weekend).

Read, read, read. It’s funny, spot on and so so important. I agree with every word in there.

(Google translated English version.)

An image showed up in my Facebook feed about a woman who’d lost a large amount of weight, and that what she had done was “simply” to cut down her calorie intake to 1300 kcals/day and “not restricting herself on anything.” (I’d say eating so few calories is restrictive, but what do I know?)

Now, as you may know, I’m sceptical to weight loss in general and to dieting in particular, so I did some googling.
My recommendation: don’t google.

One of the first links I found was this, from the Livestrong Foundation (that is, a reputable source) and this quote:

The lowest recommended caloric intake for women and men is 1,200 and 1,500 calories, respectively. According to the National Institutes of Health’s Medline Plus, a diet of 500 to 800 calories a day is dangerously too low and should not be done unless its a medically supervised diet.

So it’s really, really dangerous to be on a diet of 500 to 800 calories, but y’know, it’s ok if you’re fat. Let’s ignore the dangers and how that is not enough for the body to survive on. The dangers of starvation is outlined in the next paragraph:

Starving yourself has serious health consequences such as dehydration, constipation, malnutrition and electrolyte imbalances that can cause heart arrhythmias and death, according to Health Tree.

But apparently it’s ok to ignore that if you’re on “a medically supervised diet.”

I also found this nugget:

Image

Please tell me I’m not the only one who sees that there is a problem in telling people that eating under 800 calories is starvation, as in people DYING of it, and in the next sentence it’s ok if you’re doing it to lose weight.