Episode 24 – Thoughts on the Non-Diet Approach and HAES

Key Topics Covered

In this episode, we explained what the non-diet approach or HAES approach is. As well as its benefits in comparison to a weight-centric approach and how we see both sides. Then finally, our KEY TIPS to maintaining a healthy weight, no matter what approach you use!

What is the Non-Diet Approach?

  • Definition – Having a weight-neutral approach to health.
  • HAES – Health At Every Size


  • It does not involve ‘dieting’.
  • 95% of people who lose weight regain 5 years later.
  • DIETING IS HARD. The longer the diet, the higher levels of hunger and cravings are associated.
  • Yoyo dieting can negatively affect mental health and quality of life.
  • Dieting comes with risks. Ie. Disordered eating patterns, body dysmorphia, and eating disorders.

Weight Stigma

  • People with larger bodies are less likely to return to a health professional if they feel judged for their weight.
  • This delays them from seeking medical advice in the future. This is an issue.
  • Fiona Willer – “Put the individual at the center of your treatment”.
  • Individuals should be offered all the information and options on how to improve their health.

Why we aren’t “non-diet approach dietitian’s”

  • Body composition and health are not completely separate topics.
    • High amounts of body fat do increase the risk of insulin resistance, high cholesterol, high blood pressure. Almost every study involving 5% weight loss leads to significant improvements in those markers.
    • Whereas, studies (e.g. smiles trial) that involved dramatic improvements in dietary quality saw no improvement in cholesterol, etc.
    • Diet quality DOES still matter. But calories and body composition ALSO matter.
  • Dieting doesn’t have to be a negative experience.  
  • On the other hand, by using a weight neutral approach, people can still lose weight.
  • A screening tool could be beneficial.
    • This can allow us to decipher who’s more suited for a non-diet approach and who’s more suited for a weight-centric approach.
    • Different client groups will suit different approaches.

Factors Associated With Long Term Weight Loss

  1. Maintaining exercise – Statistics show that exercise does not directly correlate with significant weight loss, but it’s strongly correlated with weight loss maintenance.
  2. Don’t think dichotomously (black & white) about weight loss – This will alleviate the mentality of “I can eat whatever, I’m no longer on a diet”, ensuring more sustainable weight loss.
  3. Eat more protein – This can increase satiety and daily energy expenditure (partly due to the thermic effect of food and partly due to increasing muscle, which increases BMR).
  4. Eat more fibre – This helps with satiety and maintaining a calorie deficit by eating more voluminous foods.
  5. Similar diet on weekends & weekdays – This can prevent overindulging in calories.
  6. Surround yourself with support – Family, friends, or practitioners can help with accountability and make the journey more enjoyable.
  7. Mindful eating – Eat slower, chew food well, pay attention to the taste, smell, and texture of food. This has many indirect benefits; less likely to overeat.
  8. Diet breaks – Practice being at maintenance. This helps identify some barriers to weight loss.
  9. Nutrition knowledge – This can help by empowering the individual to feel in control.
  10. Continuing support post weight loss – Continuing processional guidance can ensure maintenance of weight loss. Studies show that maintaining weight loss for >1 year can significantly improve the odds of maintaining weight loss for >5 years.

Overall, there are very strong benefits to both sides of the argument.

Related Resources/ Links

Studies Mentioned

Useful Resources

Useful Blog Posts