9 Foundational 101 Reads for Health at Every Size (HAES)

In a time of Facebook groups, Instagram threads and blog posts, many of us first encounter Health at Every Size (or HAES for short) and pick up some of its principles in online discussions.

But when you’re ready to dig deeper, where should you go first? There are a thousand articles and thousands more blog and Instagram posts out there about HAES, intuitive eating, body positivity and fat acceptance, but it can be useful and enlightening to look at where it all started — and get the information straight from its original authors.

Here are nine great reads to establish an understanding of what Health at Every Size, body acceptance and intuitive eating are all about, plus some activities you can take into daily life.

Body Respect: What Conventional Health Books Get Wrong, Leave Out, and Just Plain Fail to Understand about Weight

Weight loss is not the key to health, diet and exercise are not effective weight-loss strategies and fatness is not a death sentence.

You’ve heard it before: there’s a global health crisis, and, unless we make some changes, we’re in trouble. That much is true—but the epidemic is NOT obesity. The real crisis lies in the toxic stigma placed on certain bodies and the impact of living with inequality — not the numbers on a scale. In a mad dash to shrink our bodies, many of us get so caught up in searching for the perfect diet, exercise program, or surgical technique that we lose sight of our original goal: improved health and well-being. Popular methods for weight loss don’t get us there and lead many people to feel like failures when they can’t match unattainable body standards. It’s time for a cease-fire in the war against obesity.

Dr. Linda Bacon and Dr. Lucy Aphramor’s Body Respect debunks common myths about weight, including the misconceptions that BMI can accurately measure health, that fatness necessarily leads to disease, and that dieting will improve health. They also help make sense of how poverty and oppression—such as racism, homophobia, and classism—affect life opportunity, self-worth, and even influence metabolism.

Body insecurity is rampant, and it doesn’t have to be. It’s time to overcome our culture’s shame and distress about weight, to get real about inequalities and health, and to show every body respect. Buy >>

Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works

We’ve all been there―angry with ourselves for overeating, for our lack of willpower, for failing at yet another diet. But the problem is not us; it’s that dieting, with its emphasis on rules and regulations, has stopped us from listening to our bodies. Written by two prominent nutritionists, Intuitive Eating will teach you:

• How to reject diet mentality forever
• How our three Eating Personalities define our eating difficulties
• How to find satisfaction in your eating
• How to feel your feelings without using food
• How to honor hunger and feel fullness
• How to follow the ten principles of “Intuitive Eating”,
• How to achieve a new and safe relationship with food and, ultimately, your body
• How to raise an “intuitive eater”–NEW!
• The incredible science behind intuitive eating–NEW!

This revised edition includes updates and expansions throughout, as well as two brand new chapters that will help readers integrate intuitive eating even more fully into their daily lives. Buy >>

The Intuitive Eating Workbook: Ten Principles for Nourishing a Healthy Relationship with Food

Do you use food to comfort yourself during stressful times? The Intuitive Eating Workbook offers a comprehensive, evidence-based program to help you develop a healthy relationship with food, pay attention to cues of hunger and satisfaction, and cultivate a profound connection with your mind and body.

Have you tried fad diet after fad diet, only to gain weight back? Maybe you’ve tried the protein diet only to move on to vegetables only? Raw almonds and coconut water every forty-five minutes instead of big meals? Or perhaps you’ve tried counting calories, but the numbers on the scale still don’t add up. If you are ready to throw in your hat and give up on dieting for good, take heart. You can enjoy food again—you just need to pay attention to your body’s natural hunger cues.

Based on the authors’ best-selling book, Intuitive Eating, this workbook can show you how. The Intuitive Eating Workbook offers a new way of looking at food and mealtime by showing you how to recognize your body’s natural hunger signals. Buy >>

Thrive at Any Weight: Eating to Nourish Body, Soul, and Self-Esteem

A psychotherapist of 30 years, Nancy Ellis-Ordway explains how she helps people get off the weight loss roller coaster, make peace with food and their bodies, and improve their health to find happiness and a better quality of life.

Widespread publicity about “the war on obesity” has led to pervasive anxiety, distress, and shame about eating, says psychotherapist Nancy Ellis-Ordway. Many people feel at war with their bodies rather than at home, in large part because of weight stigma and the unrelenting pursuit of thinness in America.

This book offers a detailed approach for change, with a particular focus on “the message we give ourselves” when we eat, exercise, and interact with other people. This process incorporates operating from an internal locus of control as a way to improve self-esteem.

Elllis-Ordway, in contrast to the “diet mentality” that is full of restrictions, first has clients focus on building self-esteem and growing a desire for self-care. She teaches clients to develop an ability to “listen to their own bodies” for guidance to eat for physical and mental health. The better we listen to and fulfill our body’s needs, she explains, the better our self-esteem and health becomes, and the more we believe we are “worth it” and are able to meet our objectives. Buy >>

Fearing the Black Body

Poor black women are particularly stigmatized as “diseased” and a burden on the public health care system. This is only the most recent incarnation of the fear of fat black women, which Sabrina Strings shows took root more than two hundred years ago.

Strings weaves together an eye-opening historical narrative ranging from the Renaissance to the current moment, analyzing important works of art, newspaper and magazine articles, and scientific literature and medical journals―where fat bodies were once praised―showing that fat phobia, as it relates to black women, did not originate with medical findings, but with the Enlightenment era belief that fatness was evidence of “savagery” and racial inferiority.

The author argues that the contemporary ideal of slenderness is, at its very core, racialized and racist. Indeed, it was not until the early twentieth century, when racialized attitudes against fatness were already entrenched in the culture, that the medical establishment began its crusade against obesity. An important and original work, Fearing the Black Body argues convincingly that fat phobia isn’t about health at all, but rather a means of using the body to validate race, class, and gender prejudice. Buy >>

FAT!SO? : Because You Don’t Have to Apologize for Your Size

Fat? Chunky? Less than svelte? So what! In this hilarious and eye-opening book, fat and proud activist/zinester Marilyn Wann takes on Americas’ biggest fear — worse than the fear of public speaking or nuclear weapons — our fear of fat.Statistics tell us that about a third of Americans are fat, and common sense adds that just about everyone, fat or thin, male or female, has worried about their appearance. FAT!SO? weighs in with a more attractive alternative: feeling good about yourself at any weight—and having the style and attitude to back it up.

Internationally recognized as a fat-positive spokesperson, Wann has learned that you can be absolutely happy, healthy, and successful…and fat. With its hilarious and insightful blend of essays, quizzes, facts, and reporting, FAT!SO? proves that you can be out-and-out fabulous at any size. Buy now >>

Yoga for Everyone: 50 Poses For Every Type of Body

Yoga is for every body, including yours! For years, yoga books have asked readers to bend over backward (literally!) to conform to their physical demands. It’s time for the opposite—for readers to demand that yoga conform to their individual needs. It’s time for a yoga book to reflect the broader population that would benefit from a yoga practice geared toward them. It’s time for Yoga for Everyone!

This book offers yoga for every type of body: those who are big, small, elderly, pregnant, or of various physical abilities—everyone. No matter who you are or what you look like or what your abilities are, you can do all 50 poses in this book. The variations to classic poses in this book will also allow you to perform all 10 sequences, which combine different poses into one singular experience and focus on specific physical and mental benefits. So forget what you’ve heard. Yoga isn’t just for the privileged few. It’s meant to be enjoyed by everybody and every body. Yes, you can do yoga—and Yoga for Everyone will show you how! Buy >>

Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living

Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls is a manifesto and call to arms for women of all sizes and ages. With smart and spirited eloquence, veteran blogger Jes Baker calls on women to be proud of their bodies, fight against fat-shaming, and embrace a body-positive worldview to change public perceptions and help women maintain mental health. With the same straightforward tone that catapulted her to national attention when she wrote a public letter addressing the sexist comments of Abercrombie & Fitch’s CEO, Jes shares personal experiences along with in-depth research in a way that is approachable, digestible, and empowering.

Featuring notable guest authors, Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls is an invitation for all women to reject fat prejudice, learn to love their bodies, and join the most progressive, and life-changing revolution there is: the movement to change the world by loving their bodies. Buy >>

Love It!: 234 Inspirations and Activities to Help You Love Your Body

This little book of affirmations is filled with 234 activities and inspirations to help you love your body. Readers may choose to do the affirmations one at a time or many at once–in the order listed or in no particular order whatsoever–whatever they feel is best for them. Brimming with thoughtful advice from the authors Jeanette DePatie, Ragen Chastain and Pia Sciavo-Campo as well as dozens of other notable names from the body love movement, the book is lovingly illustrated with diverse drawings from size-positive artist Toni Tails. Buy >>

Anti-Diet: Reclaim Your Time, Money, Well-Being, and Happiness Through Intuitive Eating

68 percent of Americans have dieted at some point in their lives. But upwards of 90% of people who intentionally lose weight gain it back within five years. And as many as 66% of people who embark on weight-loss efforts end up gaining more weight than they lost. If dieting is so clearly ineffective, why are we so obsessed with it?

The culprit is diet culture, a system of beliefs that equates thinness to health and moral virtue, promotes weight loss as a means of attaining higher status, and demonizes certain ways of eating while elevating others. It’s sexist, racist, and classist, yet this way of thinking about food and bodies is so embedded in the fabric of our society that it can be hard to recognize. It masquerades as health, wellness, and fitness, and for some, it is all-consuming.

In Anti-Diet, Christy Harrison takes on diet culture and the multi-billion-dollar industries that profit from it, exposing all the ways it robs people of their time, money, health, and happiness. It will turn what you think you know about health and wellness upside down, as Harrison explores the history of diet culture, how it’s infiltrated the health and wellness world, how to recognize it in all its sneaky forms, and how letting go of efforts to lose weight or eat “perfectly” actually helps to improve people’s health — no matter their size.

Drawing on scientific research, personal experience, and stories from patients and colleagues, Anti-Diet provides a radical alternative to diet culture, and helps readers reclaim their bodies, minds, and lives so they can focus on the things that truly matter. Buy >>

Let’s dig deep.

Every Monday, I send out my Body Liberation Guide, a thoughtful email jam-packed with resources for changing the way you see your own body and the bodies you see around you. And it’s free. Let’s change the world together.