What Being a HAES/Weight-Inclusive Practitioner Means to Dietitians

Today is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day and this day’s meaning has changed for me over the years. In the past, I thought of it as a day to celebrate all the great work dietitians were doing to improve people’s lives through Medical Nutrition Therapy and “weight management.” But, as you may know, my views on “weight management” have entirely shifted over the years. I no longer feel that weight is something to be “managed” or is even possible to “manage” like I once believed. In fact, I have even grown to realize how harmful some of the more weight-normative practices as a dietitian can actually be for clients (1). At the same time, I have been more drawn to the community of caring and compassionate dietitians who call themselves weight neutral, weight-inclusive, or Health at Every Size®(HAES) practitioners.

In celebration of all of the hard-work my colleagues are doing, I wanted to include some words from dietitians on what being a HAES®/Weight-Inclusive dietitian means to them.


“Being a weight inclusive dietitian for me means always working with your client and their body’s unique and diverse needs. It means always meeting your client where they are both mentally and physically, and sometimes guiding them to work with the body they have too instead of against it.”
Amanda Boyer of Whole Hearted Nutrition

“A weight inclusive dietitian is one who can hear and be with their clients full experience with and around food and body. They go at the pace their client’s systems can handle around making supportive eating changes that make sense to their life.”
Tracy Brown of Tracy Brown RD

“Being a non-diet and HAES-aligned dietitian means challenging black and white thinking and fear around food to help people discover true satisfaction in eating. It’s helping give others the tools to fight back against diet culture. It means pushing back against weight-stigmatizing rhetoric and advocating for compassionate, individualized, and evidenced-based care.”
Andrea Paul of Kale, Quinoa & Cookies

“Being a HAES-aligned non-diet dietitian allows me to provide my clients with a weight-inclusive approach to developing healthier habits that fit their lifestyle. I may be a nutrition expert but you are the only one who knows what is right for your body. I offer my clients a respectful open space that encourages them to share their personal relationship with food and body image. When you work with me as your RD we partner together to make food work with you to enhance your health without stress, shame, or guilt!”
Samina Qureshi of Wholesome Start

“Practicing non-diet and HAES dietetics lets me celebrate people’s bodies and approach their health from a joyous and curious place as opposed to a frought and stressful one. It also makes food so much more fun!”
Rachel Larkey

“It means I’m not a ‘food police’ and allows me and my clients to explore so much more around the relationship with food and their body.”
Bracha Kopstick of BeeKay Nutrition

“Practicing as a weight-inclusive dietitian enables me to help clients approach their health as an act of self care, rather than another set of strict rules to follow. Together, we’re able to help find that ever-elusive thing called “balance” – including all foods that provide pleasure as well as nourishment, enjoyable movement, and effective ways to manage stress and create meaningful connections!”
Sam Osterhaus of Live Mindfully Well

“Being a HAES/weight-inclusive dietitian means I can help people rediscover joy in eating deeply nourishing meals, without restriction or fear. It’s a compassionate, kind approach that remains evidence-based and allows space for us to be less “perfect” and more human.”
Cara Harbstreet of Streetsmart Nutrition

“Practicing as a weight inclusive RD helps me to align with my own personal values of compassion and integrity. A greater understanding of the science has helped me to shift away from the weight-centric paradigm and it’s been very empowering for my clients. As a result, I’ve been able to provide whole-person, respectful care that highlights habits and behaviors that are truly nurturing and health promoting. To borrow from Deb Burgard PhD, I can no longer prescribe certain behaviors to one group while classifying those behaviors as disordered in another group. It’s been incredibly fulfilling to see how this evidence-based approach can enhance a person’s well-being.”
Kathleen Meehan of Nourish | Kathleen Meehan MS, RD, LDN

We are all born intuitive eaters. Along life’s journey our primal instincts become suppressed by a culture of dieting. As a non-diet RD I help clients recapture their ability to eat intuitively and feel joy and at peace in their bodies.”
Sarah Rice of Sarah Rice Nutrition

“Being a weight-inclusive dietitian means that I compassionately partner with clients to overcome the ‘shoulds’ that rule their lives, so they can be fully present in celebrating delicious, nourishing foods and reconnecting with who they are – mind, body, and soul.”
Jill Clodfelter-Mason of Cultivate Joy Nutrition

“Practicing as a weight inclusive dietitian means making space for people of all bodies in my office, and allows me to treat clients as people – not a number on the scale. It allows me to address clients’ needs in a way that honors both their physical and mental health.”
Rachael Hartley of Rachael Hartley Nutrition

“For me, being a HAES practitioner and advocate means that I value and respect my clients’ bodies and their lived experiences, while holding space so they can learn to do the same for themselves.”
Kim Hoban of Kim Hoban RD

“Focusing on a person’s size and attempting to change it is not a tool for behavior change. I feel strongly about this out of concern for my clients in the breast cancer community. Better health outcomes happen when we focus on the steps toward health behaviors, irrespective of a person’s size. You’ll find this in my practice for breast cancer thrivers.”
Tamar Rothenberg of Tamar Rothenberg, MS, RD

“Working with my clients using a weight-inclusive approach allows me to see them as so much more than just a number (on the scale, BMI, etc.), and help them to see the worth they can offer the world outside of their bodies. It also means helping them to respect their body for what it allows them to do—instead of what it looks like. “
Jillian Tholen of Jillian RD

Have you heard of a Health at Every Size® or Weight-Inclusive dietitian or practitioner?

What are your first thoughts when you hear those words together?

Did any of these quote from dietitians change your perception?

Share your thoughts in the comments! 🙂

References

  1. Bacon, L & Aphramor, L. (2011). Weight science: evaluating the evidence for a paradigm shift. Nutrition Journal, 10(9), 1-13.
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