helping you spot inauthentic intuitive eating & health at every size® messages.
Continuing to share some of my favorite newsletters from this past year while I’m on maternity leave! If you want to subscribe for more content like this, sign up here!
The other day I was scrolling through Instagram’s explore page and was horrified at the number of so-called ‘health-promoting’ accounts with massive followings all showcasing incredibly harmful and disordered content in the name of health (this includes accounts of Registered Dietitians…this degree does not make you immune to falling prey to diet culture principles or promoting them because it’s what’s most profitable/popular and will garner the most likes/follows).
While I can’t control those accounts and what they say, it’s really important to me to let all of you here in this space know that what these accounts are promoting is not health, but rather disordered, diet culture messaging that not only marginalizes those living without privilege, but is generally unhelpful and damaging for everyone.
Perhaps the scariest thing I noticed about some of these accounts is that they’ve also started trying to weave Intuitive Eating (IE) and/or Health at Every Size (HAES)® messaging into their content and messaging. This is harmful and irresponsible for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it confuses those individuals generally interested in freeing themselves from diet culture.
Intuitive Eating and HAES® are growing in momentum and these accounts recognize that. The problem is, rather than digging in and doing the work to understand and practice from these points of view, they’re simply exploiting these frameworks for their own personal gain and to stay relevant, without guiding people based on the actual principles. They’re cherry picking key phrases to make themselves seem progressive while really promoting the very things Intuitive Eating & HAES® stand against (weight loss as the key to health, achieving weight loss through restrictive meal plans and/or strict exercise routines).
All this is to say, don’t be fooled by the accounts that throw in buzzy language around Intuitive Eating or HAES® while producing content centered on weight control and/or loss. No matter how much they veil their messaging, if the purpose of their account is how to lose/manage/control your weight via food & movement, it’s NOT Intuitive Eating or HAES® aligned.
Since I recognize that they’re doing this in a really sneaky way, I wanted to put together just a SOME of the examples I came across to help you differentiate from those truly showcasing these principles versus those just doing it for their own personal gain.
How to Spot Inauthentic Intuitive Eating and/or HAES® proponents:
- Throws in intuitive eating buzzwords (‘hunger/fullness cues,’ ‘rejecting the diet mentality’) while hosting an account or site all about controlling your food intake, movement and/or weight.
- Promotes “fullness hacks” (i.e. food swaps you should make to ensure you get ‘full’ on less calories…because apparently they’re inside your body and know what will satisfy you from one moment to the next ) while also throwing in messages of ‘listening to your body!’
- Promotes one body type (smaller, more muscular) as being ‘better’ than another (larger, less muscular) – often packaged as ‘Best Body,’ ‘Better Body,’ ‘Beach Body,’ or ‘Get Fit/Tone Up’ programs. Intuitive Eating & HAES® both believe in respecting and celebrating body diversity and that health can be achieved at any size.
- Advocates rejecting the diet mentality while promoting guidelines/plans/formulas by which you should fuel yourself. Neither Intuitive Eating nor HAES® promote eating based on external cues such as pre-set guidelines, plans or formulas.
- Promotes only the intuitive eating principles that seamlessly fit into diet culture narratives (you’ll likely see a lot about controlling your hunger & fullness). Neither Intuitive Eating nor HAES® believe in trying to control, trick or ‘hack’ your hunger and fullness signals. Both programs promote honoring and exploring these signals with non-judgemental curiosity.
- Reduces your health & well-being down to your food & movement ‘choices’ with no regard (or only performative regard) to structural, political or social issues that impact health (a major focus of HAES®).
- Feature a token “unhealthy” food like chocolate or cookies to showcase their ‘all foods fit’ attitude while simultaneously promoting a restrictive way of structuring your meals (low carb, keto, paleo, etc.). Intuitive Eating & HAES® both believe all foods fit and do not provide formulas or plans by which to eat and rather encourage individuals to rely on their internal signals, rational thoughts and emotions to appropriately fuel themselves.
- Promote fear mongering messages around certain foods/food groups (carbs, sugar, processed foods etc.) while telling you there’s room for everything in the diet (which is showcased only in a very structured/rigid way). Intuitive Eating & HAES® promote listening to your body and letting that guide your food decisions.
- Showcase before/after photos on their accounts or sites to detail their health journey where the ‘before’ is being in a bigger body and the ‘after’ is having lost weight on their restrictive meal plans. Both Intuitive Eating & HAES® believe health can be achieved regardless of what happens to your weight.
- Vilify binge and emotional eating recommending solutions such as ‘take a walk, a warm bath or light a candle instead’ (or one of my favorites: ‘just keep your fridge stocked with healthy snacks so you reach for those instead!’). Intuitive Eating & HAES® recommend using binge and emotional eating to learn more about underlying unmet needs or trauma to get to the root of why it might be happening. Neither program vilifies these acts or advocates for shame around them.
- Includes baked goods, but only those they deem ‘healthy’ which utilize expensive alternate sugars, flours and oils. Intuitive Eating & HAES® recognize issues of access and do not demonize any foods.
I could go on and on and on here, but hopefully this gives you a good foundation. Once you start to recognize these things, it becomes easier and easier to see through those doing the actual work and promoting messages founded in the core principles of these programs and those who simply want to benefit off them.
Remember that weight does not equal worth (or health), there is no morality to food and you are absolutely allowed to and encouraged to eat the foods you enjoy and can afford.
If you feel like you need help being less restrictive with food, check out my FREE non-restrictive nutrition guide.
please note: these blog posts are for educational and informational purposes only and are not intended for use as treatment.3