What does "healthy at every size" really mean?

Updated: Mar 21

Does your body's weight determine your health status? Think about that question for a second.. then continue reading.


“Health” isn’t something that is directly correlated to a number that you see on the scale everyday, more importantly, it isn’t really correlated at all.


“Health at Every Size,” is a book written by Linda Bacon, PhD.


So, maybe it will help if I include some of her words from her introduction.


Linda says, “Health at Every Size is a book about healthy living, one designed to support you as you shift your focus from hating yourself and fighting your body to learning to appreciate yourself, your body, and your life. It’s a book designed to help you break free of the weight-loss mentality and embrace the health-and-happiness mentality.”


I mean, what does being “healthy” even mean? Well, it has a different meaning to everyone.


Health at every size is more of an idea that an individual is not limited to the depiction of a cultural or media driven model. It shows that an individual can actually live a very balanced lifestyle, nourish their body through food, enjoy daily movement, and meet their body’s needs all while maintaining a positive body image and self-worth....without having to manipulate their weight.


The Health at Every size promise is that “you can feel better about yourself. You can feel loved, accepted, and vital-and improve your health- regardless of whether you lose weight,” Linda says.


Your body’s size doesn’t determine you.


Your body’s weight doesn’t determine you.


Let’s sprinkle a little knowledge about how to: Respect Yourself, Body, and Soul.


Having respect enough for yourself to celebrate your body, and knowing that bodies all differentiate according to age, height, race, ethnicity, gender, and all kinds of other things.


For example for me, this is respecting my stretch marks on my body and the curves that God gave me. Those stretch marks show the journey of my body from a girl, to a young woman, and to an adult. And you know what?


What a fabulous journey it has been through.


It has survived a variety of different things that include anywhere from completing a half-marathon last year…. to surviving nights out on the town with entirely too many drinks, sorry mom. However, it continues to grow and mature as I age, as it should. I look forward to seeing how my body will change one day when I have children. Having those wonderful body changes to show and prove what this body really can do.


I celebrate my growth and my curves everyday, because they make me feel like a Woman (insert hair flip here).


Sometimes we really aren’t critically aware about the information that we are reading every single day. This basic component critical awareness can be really hard for a lot of people.

It is hard to take all of this information on social media and know if it is actually true or not?


Am I right?


“I mean hello Sarah has been doing low-carb for two weeks and has lost “x-amount” of weight, so I am going to go low-carb for two weeks to lose “x- amount” of weight.” (Please, don’t be Sarah).


Or looking at those lovely before and after pictures that literally prove it. You know, the 5 week progression picture where the individual has learned how to pose, lost water weight, or etc…


It makes us think of what society or a scientific variable says we should be.


Certain scientific markers are used to get general ideas, not set specific guidelines. For instance, ideal body weight is based solely on gender and height. I am over my ideal body weight, and that is totally fine. My body loves being at the size where it gets a lot of movement and late night grilled cheeses whenever it wants.


I will try not to rant too much about “diet culture” but I cannot promise anything. I mean even when I log onto my Instagram I have had direct messages sent to me asking if I want to join a company that promotes a “30 days to healthy” message. Including but not limited to fizzy drinks that supposedly give you energy, meal replacement shakes, detox program (I mean GOT to do a detox program), daily fiber boost supplements, and of course some sort of “greens” in a powder form (yas bish get them greens in). Guess what? It only costs maybe double the amount of money you would spend at the grocery store, and you do not have to even had a degree in Nutrition and Dietetics or be a Registered Dietitian to sell/promote it.


You know maybe that works for you and you love it with all of your heart....


I also understand that different approaches work for different people.


For me, I love real food.


The way it smells, tastes, looks, and even the comfort it gives me. I get my energy from an adequate carbohydrate intake, my meals in a food form, use my liver (considering it is the only way your body detoxes), get fiber from my carbohydrate sources as well, and eat my fruits and vegetables.


Society is always trying to sell everyone something that can easily be accomplished by eating a balanced diet. They may call it a diet, lifestyle change, health challenge, you name it… However, you get so much more satisfaction and nutrients through the consumption of eating real food from ALL of the food groups, and guess what? It is actually sustainable in the long run. You know what that means? Grilled cheeses whenever I want them. What a blessing.


That may be a little much, but my point is before you go and invest in all of these supplements/diet plans/etc.… First, ask yourself are these products really reviewed by professionals that know what they are talking about?


Can you sustain a life like this? Is it worth it? Why would you want to?


Also, remind yourself that supplements are only supposed to be used to supplement things in your diet that you aren’t getting enough of in the first place. Don’t forget that registered dietitians go through all of their education to provide you with actual evidence based research that can help you with your daily nutritional needs.. So maybe they should be your first resource when trying to figure out diet recommendations.


Now let’s talk about a little self compassion.


You are many things besides your body.


Accepting yourself is way easier said than done. In Linda’s book she talks about different ways to help you to accept yourself.


She mentions protecting against negative self-talk, re framing your thoughts seizing the present, and finding support! I have learned to accept myself and I like to celebrate that through adding in movement to my everyday life. For instance, I really like to lift weights. I also enjoy walking with my mom when I am back home. I have even learned to love cycling, since some of my friends teach it… I am not good at it but that doesn’t really matter. There is not a certain type of movement that is required to be healthy. You just have to find what you like to do, and do it.


Also, honor your body with fueling it with real yummy foods! Normal eating is very flexible and it will vary for everyone depending on your hunger cues, schedule, foods you like, and many other aspects.


Do you need to eat a certain amount of times a day? No, it all depends on how you can make it work in your life.

No one exercise will make you fit.


No one diet will make you “healthy.”


You have to venture out and find what it all means to you. Start with compassionate curiosity.




Your body’s size doesn’t determine your health status.


Your body’s size doesn’t determine you.


Yours Truly,

Haley Len Sewell,

B.S. (Nutrition and Dietetics), M.S. (Sports Physiology)

Dietetic Intern

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