Health at Every Size®: Is it Biblical?
Let me preface this article by saying that I only wish to comment on the principles of this movement. Below you will find an outline of the 5 main principles, a description of common misconceptions, and finally, an evaluation of the principles as they relate to the bible. I hope you find it helpful to establish your thinking to be pleasing to the Lord in all things including taking care of your body. Blessings! Jenn
Principles of Health at Every Size® (HAES)
- Weight Inclusivity. Recognizing and embracing that all bodies are different shapes and sizes and that is a wonderful thing!
- Health Enhancement. Encouraging health policies and health care to be accessible and equal to all. We also support care of the whole person, and this includes physically, socially, spiritually, and emotionally.
- Eat for Well Being. Promote flexible eating, paying attention to and trusting body hunger and satiety cues, and balancing nutrition and pleasure.
- Respectful Care. Acknowledge biases and work to end weight discrimination to provide well rounded and excellent care to all individuals.
- Life-Enhancing Movement. Support movement that is enjoyable and beneficial for each person however they choose to do so.
What HAES is NOT
- HAES doesn’t claim that everyone is healthy at every size. We are simply saying that we reject the use of weight or BMI as an indicator of health. We have many other ways to measure health. For example, someone’s weight doesn’t tell us if they have diabetes, but their blood sugars do.
- It isn’t anti weight loss and it isn’t anti-health. But it is anti-prescribing weight loss. It is clear that the prescription for weight loss does more physical harm and may result in weight gain.2 If someone desires to change their behaviors to promote weight loss, HAES providers will not say, “no”. We will encourage you in your journey while focusing on healthy behaviors rather than weight loss.
- HAES does not discriminate against people in smaller bodies. We embrace ALL bodies sizes and shapes and respect what our bodies can do!
Is it Biblical?
YES! I do believe that all 5 of the HAES principles are Biblical. The idea of respecting our bodies and being thankful for our bodies a concept talked about often in the Bible. We marvel in God’s creation showing His unique creativity in each one of us (Psalm 139:14). Let’s celebrate this!
Principle 2 considers equality for health care and policies and I know that Jesus would appreciate this principle as we seek to care for all people equally.
Eating for well being is also a Biblical principle. God calls us to take care of our bodies for his glory (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, 1 Corinthians 10:31). God tells us that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit who is within us, and therefore, we should honor our bodies!
Respectful Care is the 4th principle. Consider this: Jesus was excellent at including ALL kinds of people at his table. He never cared what they looked like or what other thought of them. Being aware of our own biases and working to provide compassion and care to all is exactly what Jesus would do!
Principle 5 is Life-Enhancing Movement. We know based on science that moving frequently throughout the day helps us take care of our bodies well, so I actually think this one goes hand in hand with Principles 2 and 3. Let us take care of our bodies well for the Glory of God!
Remember: Weight does not equal identity. Our identity is as a child of God.