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104 of 110 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be Prepared to Have Your Ideas about Health Challenged
This week, when we were in Las Vegas, I finished reading Dr. Linda Bacon's book Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight.

Bacon didn't coin the term Health at Every Size (HAES), as she points out in the book. It was a movement before her involvement. But she has written a book that spells it out in a very readable, understandable way...
Published on April 14, 2011 by Shaunta Grimes

versus
45 of 52 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Half great, half terrible
It's flawed in parts but I got a lot out of this book overall. The core messages of this book are solid and timely; Listen to your body and eat real food that makes you feel good. Starving yourself to be thinner ends in weight gain for most of us and a raising of your set-point weight, so don't do it. Move in ways that make you feel good without worrying about burning...
Published 20 months ago by Jodi-Hummingbird


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104 of 110 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be Prepared to Have Your Ideas about Health Challenged, April 14, 2011
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This review is from: Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight (Paperback)
This week, when we were in Las Vegas, I finished reading Dr. Linda Bacon's book Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight.

Bacon didn't coin the term Health at Every Size (HAES), as she points out in the book. It was a movement before her involvement. But she has written a book that spells it out in a very readable, understandable way.

Health at Every Size starts with a discussion about the social and cultural myths surrounding weight. She talks about how at different times in the last century, women's magazines have had articles about how to GAIN weight, instead of how to lose it. Maybe the most important lesson in the book is how the weight loss industry, which includes government agencies, lies and manipulates statistics in order to make us believe that if we are fat, we are going to die.

1.) We're all going to die. Skinny does not equal immortal. (In case you were wondering.)

2.) The Center for Disease Control helped to design the `obesity crisis' with false statistics.

3.) The act of trying to obtain a `perfect' weight causes far more health problems than the act of trying to be as healthy as possible at your current weight, whatever that may be.

The first part of this book, for me anyway, felt like a battle cry.

The next part of the book talks about Health at Every Size and how to implement it into your life.

I'll admit something here. I skipped ahead to section two. And I was confused. Because I was looking for menu plans and concrete steps to follow. I've read a lot of diet and `life style change' books, starting with Susan Powter and ending right here. They all have steps to follow.

This book doesn't break HAES down that way, and at first I was confused. Because-well, how am I supposed to do this if you don't tell me how? Where are the charts? What about a training schedule or a list of HAES friendly snacks?

Then I went back and read from the beginning. (This was one of those times that my penchant for reading books backwards didn't work out for me.)

Turns out that HAES isn't a diet. I was a little slow integrating that information, because I actually knew that going in. It isn't a fitness plan. It isn't anything other than a validation, permission to treat yourself well right this minute. So Bacon's section two talks more about easing yourself out of what may well be a decades long addiction to dieting. It gives you permission to exercise because it's fun and feels good, or even as training, rather than as a punishment for the sin of being fat. To enjoy whatever food you want to eat-literally, whatever food-without putting a moral judgment on it.

HAES breaks down like this:

1. Love yourself. Yourself today, not yourself 10 or 50 or 150 pounds from now. Your body is just your body, it is neutral morally.

2. Eat good food, eat what you want and enough of it, and stop when you're full.

3. Move because it feels good, it is good for your health (yes, even if you never lose a pound) and it's fun.

Deceptively simple, right?

Bacon does talk some about set points and how you may be keeping your body above its comfortable weight by eating past when you're full and avoiding exercise. I was impressed, however, that she didn't turn this into a weight loss book.

Eating well and moving your body moderately will improve your fitness and your health-even if your body never gives up a single pound.

If you're anything like me, you have so many years of `accepting' that your health and your weight are intricately tied, that turning that off is really difficult. It's one thing to say "I can be fat and still fit" and another to believe it deep down. Even in the face of evidence that it's true. Even knowing that feeling like you have to thin before you earn being fit is a response to cultural conditioning.

You can buy this book on Amazon for about $10. You might be able to get it from your library. However you get it, prepare to have your ideas about your body, you culture and yourself be challenged.
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45 of 52 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Half great, half terrible, January 12, 2013
This review is from: Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight (Paperback)
It's flawed in parts but I got a lot out of this book overall. The core messages of this book are solid and timely; Listen to your body and eat real food that makes you feel good. Starving yourself to be thinner ends in weight gain for most of us and a raising of your set-point weight, so don't do it. Move in ways that make you feel good without worrying about burning calories. Don't pay attention to super-skinny ideals or weight-loss-diet-hype and just do what works for you and makes you feel healthiest. Skinniness is not the same as healthiness and it is the latter which is most important.

The writing of the book seemed clumsy at times. I feel the main points could have been put more simply and that some of the text was too long and meandering in getting to a point.

The parts on accepting and finding your set-point weight were quite good. One of the strongest parts of the book was the letters at the back of the book which were to give to family to let them know it'd be great if they made no positive or negative comments about your size changing because you're focusing on health and not mere weight change. A letter for doctors was also included.

There are also some not-so-good parts of this book. I feel this book would have been a lot stronger if the sections on nutrition were omitted entirely and the book just made the points about health being more important than weight more clearly and powerfully. The author should focus on the topic she really knows a lot about.

The nutrition information in this book really is bad. It's basically a description of the food pyramid. 30% of calories from fat is talked about as way too much fat - this despite the fact lipid experts such as Mary Enig PhD say that for some of us 30% is nowhere near enough dietary fat. 10% of calories from protein is said to be too high a protein intake. So what you're left with is a diet that is probably 70% or more carbohydrate. That is a level many of us just cannot cope with and which makes us feel constantly starving hungry, ill and weak even after meals. Not to mention making us gain weight like crazy even if we're putting everything we have into eating in a healthy way.

For some of us eating beans counts as a hungry-making starch food, not a protein food. Not telling readers that some people just can't cope with high-carb diets and are not suited to them sets them up for failure following the HAES plan and then blaming themselves for it. The same is true for people with food allergies to common foods such as grains and soy. Eating foods you are allergic to makes you crave them, it is one of the symptoms. The concept of eating the same old junk but in moderation just doesn't work for many of us. It sets us up to fail.

The message to enjoy junk foods and other not-so-healthy common foods in moderation is problematic. Some of us physically can't eat these foods in moderation, that is the whole problem. They do things to our bodies which shut off our bodies natural satiety signals and make us feel unwell afterwards too - or constantly unwell if we eat them often enough. This subject is tackled brilliantly in the book `A Life Unburdened' - I highly recommend it. It also explains why saturated fat is a healthy food that is good for you, along with cholesterol-containing foods! It is the new fangled unnatural fats which don't suit us, not the ones we have been eating for tens of thousands of years such as animal fat.

There is so much wrong information in the nutritional chapters, but it's also very badly written and constantly contradicts itself. The research quality is poor. The author says we have virtually the same genes today as our Paleolithic ancestors had so we will do best eating the same diet they did - a diet which gave animal foods very special importance. Then she says that because of industrial meat farming practices the best way to emulate a Paleo diet today is to eat a diet of mostly plants with meat there as a condiment only or avoided entirely because everyone knows meat and animal fat is unhealthy. Ummm...what?

High-fibre (highly processed) breakfast cereals are super healthy and so are highly-processed foods such as tofu says the author. The huge problems with soy as a staple food (as explained in books like `The Whole Soy Story') are never mentioned. The problems with anti-nutrients in whole grains are never mentioned as of course are the ways to soak and otherwise prepare grains to reduce them. The book repeats lots of myths about fibre and omits information that explains that for some of us a lower fibre diet and fibre from vegetables and fruits only (and not grains) suits us best. No amount of fibre in your diet will make your meals satisfying to you if you aren't eating enough fat in your diet, or protein.

Accurate information on eating what our ancestors ate and the foods our genes are best suited to is in books such as `Primal Body, Primal Mind.'

I'm not convinced by the `thrify gene' theory this book puts so much importance in. A few good books - such as `Good Calories, Bad Calories' - have done a great job debunking this myth far more convincingly. Seeing how ignorant and misled the author was on basic nutrition theory it also made it hard to have much faith in the quality of some of the more novel ideas on body chemistry and weight regulation put forth in this book.

At the end of one of the nutrition chapters the author says that if in doubt eat food that is as whole as possible and as minimally messed with as possible. That should have been the entire nutrition section really. Eating what makes you feel good makes sense but doing so when guided by a bit of basic nutrition knowledge is essential too, especially if you have any health or nutrition issues. It helps you better understand the messages your body is trying to send you.

I give the sections on focusing on health and not the scales 4.5 out of 5. I give the nutrition section 1 out of 5 so have settled on a 3 star rating overall. I'd love to see an updated edition of this book that was much shorter and sharper and that omitted all nutrition information. I'd buy several copies for friends and family. But right now I couldn't give anyone a book with such problematic nutrition information in it.

Jodi Bassett, The Hummingbirds' Foundation for M.E. (HFME) and Health, Healing & Hummingbirds (HHH)
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For everyone who is sick and tired of dieting ...., August 16, 2011
By 
Jessie (Sheridan, WY USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight (Paperback)
This book was truly life changing for me. At a time when I was sick and tired of the diet merry-go-round, Health at Every Size was a breath of fresh air. Finally, someone who is standing up and not only telling us that dieting doesn't work - but who has done the research to prove it!

But, I have to insert a note of caution here. If you are still looking to be your "ideal size" or reach your "goal weight" - this is not the book for you. I've seen other reviewers call this book "depressing" "sad" "unrealistic" and "disheartening." And, if you're looking for yet another diet, yet another magic bullet that promises to finally make you thin, this is NOT your book.

HAES is NOT about making you thin. It is NOT about becoming an ideal size or reaching a goal weight. It is NOT about going on yet another diet with a new Intuitive Eating set of rules. It IS about loving and accepting your body as it is RIGHT NOW. It IS about learning to trust your body around food again. It IS about undoing the damage that years and years and years of repeated starvation (dieting) has done to your mind and your body. It is NOT a quick fix.

If you can accept that this is not just another diet book, please buy it, read it, think about it, get angry, get active, and change your life. If you're looking for another diet book with it's accompanied false promises and outright lies, find your way over to that section please.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read for everyone concerned about obesity, January 13, 2011
This review is from: Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight (Paperback)
This book is a must-read for everyone who is concerned about their own weight, that of a loved one, or about the obesity epidemic. That is probably all of us. Linda Bacon knows about the science and politics of weight-loss, she has academic degrees in physiology(weight regulation), psychology (eating disorders and body image) and kinesiology (exercise metabolism). And she tells us all about it.

The book is in two parts, with an extensive appendix in this revised edition. The first part gives us the science and politics of weight-loss, while in the second part she gives us the tools to take care of our bodies and our nutrition in a way that does work. The appendix contains letters and essays explaining HAES to different groups. All these are also available on the website for the book, for those who have the first edition.

The first part discusses what is wrong with the obsession on weight. Weight is not under our control. Yes, you can lose weight. Some people can even lose a lot of weight. But it is almost impossible to keep it off long-term, that is for a period of 5 years or longer. That period of 5 years btw is the period you have to be free of cancer to be called cured. (Linda Bacon does not say that, I did). Most research on weight loss only looks at a period of 2 years, and even at that relatively short term, most people are regaining, and they are still regaining at that time. Furthermore, fat is not the killer it is made out to be. The most alarming figure about that, the 400,000 deaths per year figure published in 2004, turned out to be very wrong. Another article published a year later gave the number of 26,000; far fewer than those caused by guns, cars or alcohol (each separately). Even the evidence that being fat causes cardiovascular disease or diabetes is flawed: there is correlation, but correlation does not mean causation. For example: the more firemen fight a fire, the higher the damage. check the figures, they fit. That does not mean that sending out fewer firemen would cause less damage, does it?

The second part gives a description of a program that does work. It increases your well-being, lowers your LDL(i.e. bad) cholesterol and blood pressure, lowers food obsession, increases activity levels. Only, it does not lower your weight. (It might, it might not). The book describes one study, I know that several other studies have given similar results. This part is written as a self-help guide, and helps you to go from a restricted way of eating to an intuitive way of eating, including tips on how to learn to recognise and love good nutrition.

The appendix gives a number of short summaries, which may be copied and distributed, and which are also available online. It also has a list of resources to help in the journey to intuitive eating.

There is an extensive list of references (437) which are mostly to scientific journals.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review by a medical doctor, July 18, 2014
By 
L. Forrest (Outside Atlanta, US) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I'm so glad I found this book. I think everyone should read it - yes, thin, fat and inbetween. I already knew about the horrific things the food industry does to us in this country. And because I am a medical doctor myself, I knew that many doctors are leading the "Fat People Are Lazy, Stupid and Unworthy to Live" parade. I didn't know how badly skewed all the research was until I read this book. Folks, we've been had, and I'm tired of it. I'm sure you have heard the old saying about doing the same thing and hoping for a different result. That's what diets are.

What was great about this book for me was learning that I'm not crazy for knowing that diets don't work, that exercise makes me feel good but not lose weight, that what I eat does matter but not in the ways you might think. That I have the right to be happy even if I am fat. It doesn't make me a bad person, even if every advertisement and supposedly knowledgeable people think it does. It's another form of prejudice.

I looked up (on the biggest evidence-based website that most physicians use) the research they cite for why you should tell your patients to lose weight to treat their type II diabetes. Of the two main studies, one was in patients who had gastric bypass, and the other was in test subjects who were on very strict diets for the study. What they don't report is how AFTER the study, most of the those patients probably regained the weight and promptly went back to the same diabetes status as before. Meaning, they only caused harm, and no lasting good. I feel confident in saying this because I know there are plenty of research studies that PROVE people cannot maintain losses such as in those two studies (I've looked them up before trying to figure out what diet really works).

When I read a one-star review that said, "she's not a medical doctor, so Bacon doesn't know what she's talking about", I felt I had to write a review myself. Medical schools might train students to know about nutrition (mine had an excellent course), although sadly, some don't even do that. But they do NOT teach you anything about what really causes people to be fat, and what to do about it that might actually be HELPFUL. It's all about "lifestyle modifications". Meaning, tell your fat patients to go on yet another diet, to lose weight again no matter what the cost in their actual health, and no matter how long they can keep it off. I am lucky in that, since I am a doctor, the physicians I see (as a patient) don't give me a hard time about being fat.
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36 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Eat well and stay active, May 4, 2010
This review is from: Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight (Paperback)
Worrying about your weight or clothing size puts the cart in front of the horse. If you eat nutritious food and participate in as much physical activity as possible, then don't let that B.M.I. chart say you weigh too much. Even if the scale and mirror aren't revealing what you'd like, look at it as no different than being unhappy with your height, something else you can't change. As Linda Bacon's book HEALTH AT EVERY SIZE argues, for many healthy people their weight reflects what they should weigh despite purportedly informed sources saying otherwise.

Whites don't disparage blacks as much as they once did. Straights think twice about ridiculing homosexuals. Now HEALTH AT EVERY SIZE makes me realize slender folks knocking fat people are not much different than those who crack racist and homophobic remarks. Also, when people talk about a woman's figure it seems as though they are assessing her worth as a person. The older I get, the less I say about how ladies look, as I feel such talk contributes to the illnesses of anorexia and bulimia.

HEALTH AT EVERY SIZE says the reported dangers of life-long obesity are unproven. Reading that, I thought of the famous wrestler who claimed his diet and exercise regimen would let him live to be 100 years old yet died in his 50s. But my Uncle Al lived to age 69 despite being grossly overweight his entire life, once weighing 400 pounds; and my Aunt Kitty made it well into her 70s despite topping out at 300 pounds. HEALTH AT EVERY SIZE notes many studies sounding the alarm for fat people are paid for by pharmaceutical companies, a conflict of interest.

Instead of aiming for a certain weight or clothing size, make eating nutritious food and staying active your goals, and read HEALTH AT EVERY SIZE.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Book Changed My Life!, July 2, 2010
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This review is from: Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight (Paperback)
This book changed my life. Before HAES, I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. I ate healthy food, listened to my body, ate mindfully, and exercised. The weight didn't come off, so I thought I must be overeating. I got perpetually caught on the starvation diet train - on again, off again. Self-hate was the name of the game. When I finally discovered this book, I felt like finally someone made sense, and validated my experiences with dieting making me worse, not better. I actually like myself now, and practice REALLY taking good care of myself! Read this book! You will not be disappointed.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but could be a lot better., March 11, 2013
By 
This review is from: Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight (Paperback)
The author has done an extensive research, and it's pretty much appreciated, mostly where she states that obesity doesn't cause all the diseases that we "should" be afraid of.

Despite all her efforts, the nutrition part of her book is lacking some profundity and even (gasp) some scientific rigor. I was really disappointed when I saw Campbell's China Study as her main source of nutrition information. I really, really wish she had read, for example, what the Weston A. Price foundation has to say. Or that she had read about metabolism. Or found out that fiber is not THE thing to eat, and that it can actually make some digestive conditions worse. Or even constipate you, unlike she says. She was way too politically correct when talking about nutrition. There's a whole lot more than that.

I almost cry at the Fat=fat? chapter because she says a lot of things about fats, totally ignoring the kind of fats that are good for you, or bad for you. I couldn't believe she didn't say that a BIG part of being healthy is stop using vegetable oils. When a layperson reads the "moderation is key with fats" advice, they will cut out butter and keep eating oils, according to what they already "know" is more healthy, even when cooking with butter or with coconut oil could be the single best change that everyone should make.
But she doesn't say that. Why? Because as much as she knows about obesity and all that, she hasn't been able, at least in this book, to realize that eating less meat and more plants is not THE healthiest way to eat. It's just one school of thinking, one way of seeing things, but not the last word. It might work for some people, but it might screw up some persons.

If making this book better were up to me, I would focus on getting people healthy through raising their metabolic rate. There's no one who wouldn't benefit from it.
Then, I would say that one supportive action people can take when it comes to accepting their body and being happy with it is focusing on clothes. I know that for fat people it is really hard to find clothes, but finding a personal clothing style and showing who we are through our clothes is really uplifting and can make you feel awesome.
I wouldn't say every now and then that "you will end up eating less, and a plant-semi-based diet low in fat!". Even if it's true, the message we all get when reading this book is that eating less is better. And to think that everyone will have broccoli cravings after some time is just wishful thinking.
I would also make a chapter about water consumption, because most people assume that drinking a lot while eating fruits and vegetables, is healthier, while it could actually make you feel worse and get hyponatremia. Or feeling cold all the time.

Another thing that I feel is missing, is when she states that abdominal fat can be dangerous, but she doesn't tell me how to get rid of it, or what should I do!

Anyway, I think it's a good book and that the message it contains is worthy of a lot of attention, and it's very much needed everywhere.
I just think that the nutrition part is not to be listened to. Just listen to your body when it comes to food and water, eat less vegetable oils and try everything you can to raise your metabolic rate.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational and Full of Knowledge, September 12, 2012
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Summary: A book that teaches you about loving yourself and being healthy no matter what your size, because size really doesn't matter!

Review: In all honesty, I struggle with non-fiction books, especially of the self-help variety. So, it took me a long time to finish this book, and it was read in between my fiction books. But in the end I honestly loved this book because it got to the heart of the issues I dealt with my whole life.

This book is not one that makes excuses for unhealthy lifestyles. However, this book does discuss the harms our society has done by focusing on "obesity" and "fat" instead of "healthy". It highlights many misconceptions about the dangers of obesity and obese people. The book also does a terrific job of describing how hard it is for people who are obese to navigate this world that thinks "hating us" is "helping us".

This book doesn't highlight anything new as far as healthy lifestyle choices go. It still encourages exercising and eating high fiber diets. But HOW you go about doing all of this is very innovative. The author encourages us to love our body the WAY IT IS, and then everything else will come in due time. The goal isn't to lose weight but to be healthy.

This book isn't just one that preaches without any background. Any claim she makes, is backed up by sources, many of which are peer reviewed research articles.

I think the best part of this book is the manifesto and "letters" the author has written for people to use. There is a letter one can use to send to their friends and family about their weight, one to give to your doctor, etc.

If you are struggling to make healthy lifestyle choices or feel bogged down by societies expectations of your size, then read this book. It will help you not only create a better emotional and mental mindset, but it sets up a program for you to lead a healthy lifestyle, no matter WHAT your size.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Quote: "The true heroes among us are not those who have lost weight. They are the people who move on with their lives, who live proud regardless of their weight."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Must-Read for those Hooked on Fad Diets, February 15, 2013
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This book takes a common sense approach to gaining health and getting off of the fad-diet bandwagon. As a woman, I know how hard it is to feel the pressure to be on some kind of diet, because that's what women do, right? This book addresses this problem as well as self-esteem issues, and many studies that most diet books or magazine articles won't talk about.

Someone reading this book might think that all diets are evil and that the people who say that a certain diet worked for them are lying. I believe that there are many different healthy diets for many different people. The "diet" that works is the one that someone enjoys and so will naturally stick to. The "diet" that this book advocates is a plant based, low saturated fat diet, so if you believe that saturated fat is good for you, as I do, you will disagree with that.
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Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight
Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight by Linda Bacon (Paperback - May 4, 2010)
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