I finally got around to reading ‘Health at Every Size‘ yesterday. You know when you have a book that you really know you want to read but you just never quite get around to it? HAES was one of mine.
Then I read the post I reblogged yesterday from Alexandra Roumbas Goldstein – and I knew I had to get on with it and read the damn book!
It made me angry, happy, determined and a whole misxture of other emotions. This is the science they don’t tell you when you’re being lectured about your weight at the doctors for the umpteenth time (and we all know you only went in for antibiotics for a throat infection). It’s liberating and it’s eye-opening.
Right from the start, Linda Bacon debunks the idea that dieting works. From the ways your body tries to resist weight loss – and it’s a crafty bugger – to the ways we’re misled by big business into eating foods that keep us fat, dieting, feeling shitty about ourselves and more. She even suggests that exercise isn’t the weight loss Holy Grail we’re led to believe. It might stop us GAINING weight and it’s undeniably a good thing to be as active as we can be, but it doesn’t make most of us skinny.
HAES also gives you a whole heap of figures contradicting the idea we’re all going to die young because we are a size 16 or more.
You’ll just have to read it for yourself if you want to get the full benefits. I think I’m going to have to read it again myself, especially the bits about how to stop dieting. There’s a lot in there that’s not entirely new to me – I have to thank Sue Thomason for introducing me to the idea that there might be a world beyond Slimming World in the first place. But for some reason the research, the science, the figures and the detail made it all feel real.
Women who followed the HAES advice were happier, no longer struggled with food issues (Amen to that) and improved their self esteem. But what about their health? Well there were no massive weight losses. The author says she lost a couple of stone but nothing major. But before you decide it’s not worth doing and search Amazon for 2013’s next diet best seller, read on. The women who followed the HAES programme had lower cholesterol and blood pressure and were more active than before they started the plan.
The control group of dieters lost a bit of weight – but gained it back. Their activity levels, cholesterol and blood pressure all stayed the same or got worse, as did their depression levels. Half the dieters dropped out before the end of the study while only 8% of the women following the HAES plan gave up.
The dieters’ self esteem dropped. The HAES volunteers soared.
So no, they weren’t skinnier, but they were healthier and happier. And the dieters were neither skinnier, healthier OR happier. So it’s a no-brainer really.
Diets. Don’t. Work.
It’s not the easiest thing in the world to get to the point where you just give up on the idea of dieting. I mean really give up. But you know what, it’s well overdue for me. I’m tired of it. The relentless pressure and bullying, the stress of trying to lose weight and busting a gut (last year I managed to lose a stone…but put it all back on again). We all want to be happy and healthy, so what if there is a way to be both without being in the BMI chart ‘acceptable’ range? I’m willing to take that chance…