HAES eating for well-being

HAES: Eating for Well-Being

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HAES eating for Well-Being: Introduction.

The 4th HAES principle is eating for well-being. This principle promotes sustainable health habits that support a flexible eating pattern based on hunger, satiety, nutritional needs, and pleasure, rather than any externally regulated eating plan focused on weight control.

Research has shown that lifestyle changes are much more effective at health improvement than just focusing on weight loss. Our behaviors are much more important than what we weigh.

This article will review ways we can improve our health by improving the way we eat.

What is HAES?

HAES is an acronym that stands for Heath at Every Size. It is pronounced “haze”.

The Health at Every Size® (HAES®) approach is a registered trademark of The Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH). This nonprofit organization originally developed in 2003 and revised in 2013 to promote size acceptance and end weight discrimination and stigma.

ASDAH approach seeks to support all individuals in creating health promoting environments and focus on removing the barriers to the access of healthcare. ASDAH seeks to support and improve the social, economic, and physical barriers that contribute to lifestyles that promote disease.

Click here to see more: HAES: Part One. A brief overview of Health at Every Size – Waistline Dietitian

HAES eating for well-being. HAES digs deeper to get to the root cause of health problems.

What is the HAES movement?

HAES is a paradigm shift in healthcare that shifts the focus from weight to health. HAES works to remove the obstacles for making healthy choices that include food access and exercise opportunities.

HAES proponents believe the best way to help people make behavior changes is by supporting them to foster self-acceptance and to honor their body. People are more eager to make better health choices when they feel good about themselves. For more information on the weight-inclusive approach click on HAES: Part 2 Weight-Inclusive Health for Overall Well-Being and Doing No Harm – Waistline Dietitian

HAES supports well-being.

HAES eating for well-being. Food is the most widely abuses anti-anxiety drug in America and Exercise is the most potent yet underutilized antidepressant.

Well-being includes physical as well as emotional, psychological, and spiritual health. There are multiple causes of diseases (genetics, race, socioeconomical, environmental, activity level, food access, physical and emotional stress, physical activity).

The HAES movement digs deeper into the underlying cause of health disparity and works to provide safe and affordable access to healthcare. It also helps people find sustainable practices that support individual and community well-being. Click here to see more HAES Movement – Waistline Dietitian

HAES eating for well-being.

HAES supports people in adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being rather than weight control. HAES encourages eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite.

HAES eating for well-being. Authentic health is a dynamic process of integrating your inner world and external world guidelines.

HAES encourages people to rely on their body’s internal cueing to increase awareness of your body’s response to food. Food is valued for nutritional, psychological, sensual, cultural, and other reasons.

HAES encourages people to make connections between what they eat and how they feel. Pay attention you how you are feeling before, during and after eating. Evaluate your mood, concentration and energy levels, fullness, digestion, appetite, satiety, hunger, and pleasure. Use these feelings as guiding principles for further meal planning.

Click on this blog to learn more about Intuitive Eating principles and the health benefits. What Is Intuitive Eating? The Good, the Bad and the Key Takeaway for Success! – Waistline Dietitian 

Intuitive Eating Style.

Intuitive Eating has been described as a self-care eating framework. Intuitive Eating is eating in response to physiological hunger and satiety signals, not external or emotional cues. 

The main purpose of intuitive eating is to cultivate a healthy relationship with food, mind, and body.

Intuitive eating is a journey of learning to regain the trust of your inner body wisdom. 1  

HAES eating for well-being. Intuitive eating uses internal body wisdom.

Intuitive eating is innate in all of us. We were all born intuitive eaters. The fundamental principles of Intuitive Eating will help you regain your “body wisdom”.

You already have what it takes! First you will have to let go of all your previously learned eating beliefs around good or bad food and societal cues such as: diets, dieting rules, childhood experiences such as needing to clean your plate, or getting treats for rewards, eating because it is dinner time, advertisements encouraging people to eat irrespective of hunger. 2

You do not need food rules to guide your choices. You do not need to fight your desires. All you need is to respect your body by listening and responding to its signals.

Stop thinking about food being good or bad.

When we place a value on food it can distort our cravings. If we feel a food is bad or off limits, we are giving it a higher value. This can lead to a cycle of eating called “restrict-binge” or “yo-yo dieting”. When you have permission to eat all food, the food loses its power over you.

Restricting food increases your craving and urge for that food. If you avoid eating food you truly desire, you will often wind up eating more in a never-ending quest for satisfaction.  

Restrictive eating frequently triggers overeating in the short-term and may cause the body to store more body fat long-term. This is counter-productive!

Eating pleasurable food when you have the physical drive to eat will not trigger consistent overeating in “Intuitive Eaters”. Pay attention to your cravings and satisfy them.

Take time and explore your cravings. Where are you and when they are the occurring? Did you see something, smell, feel something? How are you feeling emotionally?

Stay mindful. How do we know if a food is satisfying our craving?

Internal cues.

To become an intuitive eater, we need to learn to listen to our internal cues. Intuitive eating improves interoceptive awareness. It helps connect our body and mind and it can help guide our eating patterns to improve our well-being.

Internal cues that we will learn to listen to: Honor your hunger. Respect your fullness. Honor cravings and learn the satisfaction factor (what smells, tastes, textures, colors are satisfying). The key is to slow down, pay attention and listen.

You will learn what foods your body does best with.

Honor your hunger.

HAES eating for well-being. Emotional hunger signs.

Honoring your biological hunger is essential to reclaim your eating patterns. Your body needs to know consistently that it will have access to food. If you have been dieting, your body’s defense mechanisms have been turned on to lower your calorie needs and to increase your appetite to stay alive.

Our body was hardwired to survive. Skipping meals and chaotic eating habits trigger “starvation defense” in which your body does whatever it can to hang on to every calorie it can. This leads to lower energy expenditure, increased appetite, and poor insulin sensitivity.

Hunger fullness scale.

1-2: Starving: Cannot think straight. Low energy, cranky, anxious, shaky.     

3-4: Gently hungry:  Start thinking about food. Slight empty feeling in stomach.

5-6: Comfortable: Comfortable/energized. Able to concentrate.

7-8: Comfortably full: Feel heavy in stomach, lower energy.

9-10: Stuffed: Uncomfortable, bloated, tired, want to sleep.

Hunger fullness scale with a timeline numbering 1-10.

Nature has us hardwired to enjoy the first few bites the most but then tones down the biological reward system after the initial few bites. Slow down and be mindful. It will help you recognize your satisfaction and fulness.

Also, remember when you are eating you have full permission to eat again later. Sometimes we are hardwired to feel we must consume everything at one time.

Pay attention to how you feel before, during and after meals. Eat when you are at the earlier stages of hunger. You will get the maximum satisfaction from your meal.

Journaling can help you recognize connections between your hunger and other food triggers (emotional eating). Your interoceptive awareness will improve with journaling.

Planning ahead.

Have food you like available. It is important to have food on hand before you becomes starving. Make a shopping list. Have some staples on hand.

Plan a few meals and snacks. Quick and easy meals with a few different food groups. Have meals and snacks ready to eat.

Think about where you will be when you may be getting hungry again. What food will be available. Should I bring a snack or a meal with me?

The goal is to have food you like available to you when you get hungry. Planning ahead will help you manage your hunger.

Practice mindful eating.

Eat with full awareness. To get the full satisfaction of the food/meal/snack you need to be present. This is also important to get the satiety- fullness- satisfaction signals. Pay attention when you eat.

Tips to help you eat more mindful.

HAES eating for well-being. A lady sitting at the table thinking. Mindfulness.

Eat at a table. Sitting down. Eat in a Relaxed atmosphere. Turn off the TV, Computer, Put away the book, newspaper.

Eat when you are gently hungry.

Check in while you are eating. Be present. Appreciate all the taste sensations.

Take a moment before eating to look at the food and notice color, textures.

Mind-body check in:

Before meal– What is my energy level? How is my stomach feeling? What am I craving?

During meal– Is this satisfying my craving? Am I enjoying this experience? What is my stomach saying? Is the 5th bite as good as the first? (Many times, when our body has had enough to eat, the food will not taste as good as it did on the first few bites).

Appreciate the food you eat. Appreciate where the food came from and having enough.

Choose satisfying foods and include foods higher in fiber, protein, and water content. They are best at activating our fullness sensors.

Eat slowly. Put down the fork between bites. Sip some water during your meal. Chew your food well.

Take smaller portions initially. Make your plate in the kitchen. Check in with yourself and evaluate your hunger. Eat from smaller plates, dishes.

Add higher volume foods to your meals such as: vegetables, lettuce and tomato to sandwiches, fruits, soups, stews.

If you pay attention when you are eating, your body will subtly nudge you to stop when you are physiologically full.

** These tips are guidelines to help you get in touch with your own body wisdom. Slowing down and being present will help you be able to listen to your internal cueing process.

Tackle emotional eating.

Self-care involves healing your body, mind, spirit. Many times, eating problems are emotional problems. If you can get your emotional needs taken care of in other healthy ways, you will be able to curb your emotional food intake.

Slow down and check in with yourself before you eat. Where is your hunger on the scale of 1-10? When did you last eat? Did you skip a meal? How are you feeling? How will eating make you feel afterwards? Will you be satisfied?

HAES eating for well-being. Emotional eating cycle.

Think about what emotions you are feeling when you want to eat. Are you: happy, sad, angry, hurt, bored, afraid, stressed? Is there some action you can take to help you feel better? Could you address the problem directly or try a different self-care action (write a letter, take a bath, go for a walk, call a friend?)

Next time you find yourself reaching for food in the absence of physiological hunger allow yourself to take a moment and sit quietly and feel the emotion. Many times, simply acknowledging feelings can help remove some of their intensity. An important part of healing is being aware of how you are feeling and addressing it in healthy ways rather than distracting the feeling with food.

Sunrise on ocean with mountain in background. Today I am going to honor my health. What movement feels good today? What can I eat to honor my health?

Make a list of self-care activities that you love to do. During times you find yourself emotionally hungry try to recognize it and:

Take a walk. Play with your pet. Read a book or magazine. Call a friend. Write a letter/email. Journal. Work on a house project. Breathe/meditate. Yoga. Take a class. Play a game. Watch a movie or your favorite TV series. Paint, draw, Anything Artsy.

The idea is to think about other ways to fill your emotional hunger until you are ready to tackle it head on. Food is a wonderful source of pleasure, but it can get you into trouble if it is your only source of pleasure. Finding enjoyment in other areas of your life will allow food to provide you with the nourishment and energy it was intended for.

The desire to eat when you are not physically hungry is not bad. It may just be a way that your body is communicating to you that you need something. It could be more rest, more personal connection, more pleasure. Being aware may help you make choices that will serve you better.

Eat real food.

This might sound silly but eat real food that comes from nature (not a box, can, or bag) whenever possible. This does not mean you cannot eat processed foods. When your diet centers around processed foods it dulls your taste to appreciate more subtle and wider-ranging flavors.

Real food has the nutrients that our body’s control panel can use to register hunger and fullness sensations. The processed foods are the high-fat, high—sugar, packaged foods and animal foods.

Unfortunately, processed foods do not speak our language as well and we often consume more calories before we feel the same level of contentment. We can learn to love the taste of almost anything given enough time. What we eat can also drive hunger and satiety signals.

Just try to eat more real food when possible (fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and animal foods raised under natural conditions).

Eat a variety of foods. Mostly plants.

Eat enough fruits and vegetables. People who eat higher amounts of fruits and vegetables have lower incidence of chronic diseases and cancer. These foods are loaded with antioxidants and fiber, which offer many health benefits.

Fruits and vegetables also have special food compounds called phytochemicals, which also have many health benefits. There are hundreds and maybe thousands of phytochemicals in plant foods and they cannot be put in a bottle (they have not even been able to identify all of them)!

Yes. They are great. They are nutrient dense. They are cancer fighting. Plants have many health benefits. Use plants as the base of your diet and compliment them with other foods you love.

Pineapple with a yellow background. "Fruits and vegetables contain special compounds called phytochemicals and antioxidants which have many health benefits.

Experiment and try new ways of adding vegetables, beans, and fruit to your meals. When you change what you eat, eventually your preferences will catch up to accommodate your new eating pattern. Taste buds only have a 3-week lifespan.

Choose whole grain carbohydrates, high in fiber and low in sugar. Choose whole grains, whole oats, brown rice, rye, whole wheat, millet, quinoa, high fiber pasta. Wholesome carbohydrates will provide the serotonin benefits without the empty calories of sugar. Serotonin is a powerful hormone that helps stabilize your mood.  

When eating fat, choose more monounsaturated fats such as extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados.

Protein rich foods: Eat a variety including beans, lentils, legumes, peas, chickpeas, seafood, chicken, poultry, nuts, and lean meats. A small amount of protein at each meal can help you stay full longer.

Drink enough fluids, primarily water.

Chose foods with a variety of different colors, textures, tastes to get a wider assortment of nutrients. Eating the same thing all the time dulls your senses.

Learn to cook.

Eating whole foods can be fun and adventuresome. You can try new recipes and eventually come up with your own favorite twists. Eat more foods at home in a calm environment.

Choose foods that help you feel good.

When we notice how certain foods make us feel, we tend to desire a balanced way of eating. At times, we will choose food not because we are craving it, but because it will make us feel better.

Choose foods that give you sustainable energy. Eat food that does not make you feel bloated or uncomfortable afterwards. Eat foods that help you have regular bowel movements. Avoid foods that give your blood sugar a spike and followed by a drop. Avoid food that makes you feel sick in any way after eating it.

Make informed food choices.

What is the value of learning about good nutrition if we are going to eat intuitively? Honoring your health and respecting your body is part of self-care. If making food choices can include both your food desires and which foods help you feel best, it will help your overall quality of life.

Lady on a beach sitting cross legged. Intuitive eating helps you restore "body wisdom"

Have a positive attitude about eating.

The best attitude around eating is one that cultivates pleasure and honors food and the act of nourishing your body. By becoming more attentive and respectful of your food and the eating process you will be drawn to more wholesome food choices.

Overall, the goal is to work towards improving your eating patterns to help improve your overall health and well-being. 3,4,5

Intuitive Eating benefits include:

  • Reduce disordered eating, particularly binge eating.6
  • Greater weight loss has been observed after bariatric surgery when following Intuitive Eating lifestyle. 7
  • Increased meal enjoyment8
  •  Lower BMI8
  • Fewer dieting behaviors 8
  • Fewer food anxieties 8
  • Greater weight stability (less weight cycling)9
  • Lower Triglyceride levels10
  • Higher levels of HDL (good cholesterol)10
  • Greater body appreciation 10
  • Positive emotional functioning11
  • Greater life satisfaction 9
  • Unconditional self-regard and optimism9
  • Psychological hardiness9
  • Greater motivation to exercise when focus is on enjoyment rather than guilt or appearance 9.

Do you have a medical condition that will be helped by paying attention to your nutrition?

Intuitive Eating can integrate medical nutrition therapy. It may be helpful to work with a Registered Dietitian who is trained to help you with both. Check out the link below to find an intuitive eating counselor for you:

https://www.intuitiveeating.org/certified-counselors/ :

HAES supports eating for well-being.

Eating for well-being is not about restriction. It is not about counting calories. It is not about counting macros, fat grams, weighing or measuring. There are no external diets, meal plans or mealtimes. This is an inside job!

Remember, this is your self-care journey towards sustainable health habits that can help lead you towards well-being.

List of support systems.



National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance: https://naafa.org/

https://www.intuitiveeating.org/certified-counselors/ :



Hartley, Rachael. Gentle Nutrition: A Non-Diet Approach to Healthy Eating. Victory Belt Publishing, 2021.

Bacon, Linda. Health at every size: The surprising truth about your weight. BenBella Books, Inc., 2010.

Rogers, Courtney Bramblett, et al. “Feasibility and Acceptability of a Body Kindness Guided Self-help Intervention for Emerging Adult Women.” (2021).

Tribole, Evelyn, and Elyse Resch. Intuitive eating: A revolutionary anti-diet approach. St. Martin’s Essentials, 2020.

Harrison, Christy. Anti-diet: Reclaim your time, money, well-being, and happiness through intuitive eating. Hachette UK, 2019.

Rumsey, Alissa. Unapologetic Eating: Make Peace with Food and Transform Your Life. Victory Belt Publishing, 2021.

Bessey, Meredith. “The Eating Instinct: Food Culture, Body Image, and Guilt in America by Virginia Sole-Smith.” Canadian Food Studies/La Revue canadienne des études sur l’alimentation 6.2 (2019): 152-154.

Find an Intuitive Eating Counselor near you:

https://www.intuitiveeating.org/certified-counselors/ :


  1. Anglin, Judith Camele. “Assessing the effectiveness of intuitive eating for weight loss–pilot study.” Nutrition and health 21.2 (2012): 107-115.
  2. Hawks, Steven, et al. “The relationship between intuitive eating and health indicators among college women.” Journal of Health Education 36.6 (2005): 331-336.
  3. https://haescurriculum.com/
  4. https://www.sizediversityandhealth.org/content.asp?id=31
  5. Bacon, Linda. Health at every size: The surprising truth about your weight. BenBella Books, Inc., 2010.
  6. Tribole, Evelyn, and Elyse Resch. Intuitive eating: A revolutionary anti-diet approach. St. Martin’s Essentials, 2020.
  7. Hazzard, V.M., Telke, S.E., Simone, M. et al. Intuitive eating longitudinally predicts better psychological health and lower use of disordered eating behaviors: findings from EAT 2010–2018. Eat Weight Disord 26, 287–294 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40519-020-00852-4
  8. Muriel Nogué, Erika Nogué, Nicolas Molinari, Valérie Macioce, Antoine Avignon, Ariane Sultan, Intuitive eating is associated with weight loss after bariatric surgery in women, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 110, Issue 1, July 2019, Pages 10–15,
  9. Tracy L. Tylka, Rachel M. Calogero & Sigrún Daníelsdóttir (2019): Intuitive eating is connected to self-reported weight stability in community women and men, Eating Disorders, DOI: 10.1080/10640266.2019.1580126
  10. Hawks, Steven, et al. “The relationship between intuitive eating and health indicators among college women.” Journal of Health Education 36.6 (2005): 331-336.
  11. Tribole, Evelyn, and Elyse Resch. Intuitive eating: A revolutionary anti-diet approach. St. Martin’s Essentials, 2020.
Pineapple with yellow background. waistline disclaimer this blog is to share information and not to replace medical advice. Always follow up with your medical provider.

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