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  • Writer's pictureAgnes wohl

Health at Every Size: A Trauma-Informed Approach to Wellness

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

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As a trauma therapist, I often work with individuals who are wrestling with complex feelings related to body image and self-esteem. It's not uncommon for trauma to manifest in a person's relationship with food, exercise, and their body. That's why I want to discuss a movement that is shifting the paradigm in how we approach health and wellness: Health at Every Size (HAES).

Understanding Health at Every Size

The Health at Every Size (HAES) approach is a movement that promotes size acceptance, respect for diverse body types, and a healthy relationship with food and physical activity. It encourages health-enhancing behaviors for people of all sizes without focusing on body weight as a primary outcome.

Principles of Health at Every Size

The principles of HAES are designed to support health and well-being without judgment, bias, or discrimination. Here are the five basic tenets of HAES:

  1. Health Enhancement: Prioritize health in ways that are personally meaningful and sustainable.

  2. Respect: Honor differences in size, age, race, ethnicity, gender, dis/ability, sexual orientation, religion, class, and other human attributes.

  3. Critical Awareness: Challenge assumptions and scientific and cultural beliefs that equate thinness with health and larger body sizes with disease.

  4. Compassionate Self-Care: Cultivate individual practices that support physical, psychological, and emotional well-being.

  5. Eating for Well-being: Promote flexible, individualized eating based on hunger, satiety, nutritional needs, and pleasure.

HAES and Trauma-Informed Care

The principles of HAES align with the trauma-informed approach by promoting safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration, and empowerment.


In a world obsessed with diet culture, the HAES approach provides a safe space for individuals to explore health and wellness free from weight bias and discrimination.


HAES emphasizes clear policies and procedures, ensuring that the focus is on promoting health behaviors rather than weight loss.


HAES encourages individuals to listen to their bodies and choose what feels best for them when it comes to food and physical activity.


HAES is about working together with health providers to determine what works best for each individual. It encourages collaboration rather than a top-down approach to health.


HAES empowers individuals to redefine health and wellness on their own terms, fostering self-efficacy and self-acceptance.

Embracing HAES in Your Wellness Journey

If you have a history of trauma and find that it's impacting your relationship with food, body image, and exercise, the HAES approach may provide a healing framework. It allows you to focus on nourishing your body, engaging in enjoyable physical activity, and cultivating a positive relationship with food without the pressure of weight loss.

As a trauma therapist, I'm here to support you through this process. We'll work together to foster a sense of safety, build trust, and empower you to make choices that promote health and well-being at any size.

To learn more about how trauma therapy and the Health at Every Size approach can help you in your wellness journey, contact Agnes Wohl, LCSW at 516-625-1750. You are deserving of care, respect, and health at every size.

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