What is HAES?

On Our Minds


March is National Nutrition month and in the middle of the month we are celebrating Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day. We thought it would be the perfect time to go over the difference between a dietitian (aka registered dietitian nutritionist) and nutritionist. In a world where there are so many people selling online nutrition packages, sharing pseudoscience or “what worked for them”, it’s important to point out these differences before you choose to work with somebody.

A registered dietitian nutritionist must have an approved bachelor’s degree in dietetics, complete a 6-12 month accredited dietetic internship of at least 1200 hours, and pass the registered dietitian exam. This path is a minimum of 5 years of schooling as well as hands on experience in the hospital setting, long-term care setting, community setting and food service setting. Dietitians are required to complete and submit continuing education credits every five years.

On the other hand, there are no rules and regulations as to who can call themselves a “nutritionist”. This term is often free from government regulation. Nutritionists typically do not have any professional training (or perhaps have taken a weekend course), and should not be involved in the diagnosis and treatment of any diseases. A nutritionist can practice without having any formal training.

Things to look out for:

  • Anyone who says, “It worked for me!”

  • Anyone who cuts out entire food groups

  • Anyone who can’t back up their claims with research

  • Anyone who says you MUST take their supplements

  • No real credentials or formal training (ask!)

In Good Health, 
Lisa Brown & Jennifer Medina

What is HAES?

The Health At Every Size (HAES) approach is a research-based approach, weight neutral approach to health. It supports people in adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being, rather than weight control. It encourages eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors internal hunger cues, satiety, and appetite. The HAES concept promotes joyful movement for sake of mental and physical wellbeing, not for the purpose of burning calories and changing one’s body. This approach acknowledges and respects all body shapes and sizes.

Research shows that dieting does not work. Approximately 95% of diets fail, and 66% of people gain more weight than what they started with. The diet industry is a $61 billion dollar industry that is alive and well. The more people diet, the more the diet industry benefits. Of course the diet industry wants us to believe that obesity is on the rise – it keeps them in business! Truth is, weight in not the greatest indicator of health. Not only that, but in the last 10 years there has been a leveling off of weight in this country.

Health is more about weight, diet and exercise. We need to look at other indicators including occupational, emotional, social, spiritual, intellectual and environmental health to see the bigger picture. Most studies that look at the health effects of “obesity” don’t take these other indicators into account.

We are constantly fed the idea that having higher body weight is associated with undesirable health outcomes. However, the fact that many people in larger bodies suffer from body image issues and face discrimination at the doctor’s office is not discussed. This may prevent them from seeking out healthcare and become sicker in the long term. All that is seen is higher weight, worse health outcomes. We need to dig deeper.

While weight itself does not directly affect health, we’ve seen that weight cycling does. Weight cycling is a result of chronic dieting and is associated with inflammation, HTN, insulin resistance, HLD. We are better off finding and accepting our set-point weight in order to protect our health, rather than gaining and losing the same pounds over and over again.

Need more convincing? One study looked at 2000 pairs of twins to see if dieting affected weight gain. The twins were followed for 5 years and the researchers found that dieting, independent of genetics, was significantly related to weight gain. The more a twin dieted, the more likely they would weigh more than their non-dieting twin. In a large review of over 31 studies in adults who dieted, there was an increase in weight gain, binge eating and eating disorders.

On the other hand, six randomized controlled trials showed that non-diet groups/HAES experienced improvements in physiological measures, health behaviors, and psychosocial outcomes (body image, self-esteem, etc.).

We cannot know how healthy someone is by just looking at them. It is important to consider the harmful outcomes of dieting and consider the ever-growing research of HAES. Talk with one of our providers if you’re interested in learning more!

On the Lighter Side

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Recipe of the Month:
Taco Salad


Super quick to make! The salsa and greek yogurt act as the dressing on this fun weeknight salad!

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 lb ground beef or turkey or chicken

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning

  • 6 cups romaine lettuce, chopped

  • 1 cup canned black beans (rinsed and drained)

  • 1 cup canned corn (rinsed and drained)

  • 1.5 cups cherry tomatoes (halved)

  • 1 medium avocado (cubed)

  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

  • Tomato Salsa

  • Greek yogurt

  • Handful of cilantro (chopped, optional)


  1. Add the oil to a non-stick skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and taco seasoning. Cook until beef is no longer pink, crumble in the pan. Set aside.

  2. In a large bowl, add the beef, lettuce, beans, corn, tomatoes, avocado, cheese. Toss together.

  3. Divide salad into 4 bowls. Top each bowl with greek yogurt, salsa and cilantro as desired.

Quote of the Month

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any."
  —Alice Walker

lisa brown