We cannot know the state of your health by looking at your weight, and the idea that we could is a misconception that does a lot of harm. Health at Every Size is a research-based set of principles that helps shift the conversation away from weight as a stand-in indicator for health and instead focuses on health enhancement and well-being regardless of body size. 

The five Health at Every Size (HAES®) priniciples are:

Weight Inclusivity 

People come in a lot of different shapes and sizes, and there aren’t any particular shapes or sizes that are better than or worse than others. Specifically, it is possible for larger people to be very healthy and it is possible for smaller people to have real health concerns. Therefore it doesn’t make sense to assume health based on body size. 

Health Enhancement

Health care needs to be focused on practices that improve human well-being. This means that your care needs to embrace your individual needs and situation, and work with you on many levels, including the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual.

Respectful Care

Health care needs to begin with a conversation and listen to you as the expert on your own experience of health. Part of being able to have that conversation is to acknowledge and be aware of the social bias that can color those conversations, and then correct for it. 

Eating for Well-Being

It is important for your eating to be flexible and individualized to your own needs. It needs to be cued by your own feelings of hunger and satiety, meet your nutritional needs, and ideally bring a sense of pleasure and joy. 

Life-Enhancing Movement

We all have bodies, and those bodies are able to move to some degree. Movement creates health, and it is important to find the right kind of body movement for each person, regardless of body size or ability. It can be as simple or as complex as we choose, but movement is a cornerstone of health and key to improving quality of life. 

Nutrition Therapy at Ha.Lé is based on Health at Every Size and Intuitive Eating principles, in order to best support the health of every body and everybody. 

Our relationship with food is closely linked to our emotional health. Having emotions and eating are both physical events that are felt in the body, and we often try to change one by changing the other. Understanding this link allows us to cultivate an emotional relationship with food that supports our health. 

Food gets used to comfort, nurture, and distract from emotional issues. We all experience a full spectrum of emotions, including anxiety, loneliness, boredom, and anger. Food will not fix any of these feelings. It might help you feel better for a short time, but it won’t solve the problem that is causing the distress. It is more likely to make you feel worse in the long run, because then you will have to deal with both the source of the distress and the discomfort of overeating. 

Our feelings about the size and shape of our bodies can affect our eating choices. Food choices are often used to punish or try to control body size. These choices are not grounded a healthy relationship with food or with our bodies. Instead, respect your body and your genetics. Think of your body size as being like your shoe size, and honor it with realistic expectations. 

We can also build awareness of the pleasure and enjoyment that comes through physical things like eating and being active. Eating a good meal in a beautiful setting can bring feelings of joy, contentment, and pleasure. Being active can also bring feelings of being energized and upbeat, especially when we focus on the sensations of how it feels to move our bodies. 

Our emotional health is closely tied to our physical selves, and so our food and activity choices are often impacted by our emotional state. Cultivating a healthy relationship with food and activity can improve our overall emotional health. When we build our awareness of our body and mind, we are better able to create health.

Nutrition Therapy is strongly based on the principles of Intuitive Eating. These principles use forms of physical and emotional awareness to inform our eating habits, helping to create health and balance. 

Intuitive Eating rejects the diet mentality. Dieting is a heavily marketed industry, but it is not one that gets consistent or long lasting results. Instead, Intuitive Eating makes peace with food. Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. When we tell ourselves that we can’t or shouldn’t eat certain foods, it can lead to feelings of deprivation that spiral down into cravings, guilt, and binging. 

Honor your hunger instead. It is important to keep your body fueled with enough energy and carbohydrates. When we honor our basic biological signals, we are able to begin rebuilding trust and our relationship with food. It is also important to reject the ideas of “good” and “bad” food, or that we are “good” or “bad” for eating certain things. 

Respect when you are full. It can take practice to learn how to sense your fullness, so it can be helpful to pause in the middle of eating and check in with yourself. It also helps to cultivate the pleasure and satisfaction that comes from eating food you want, in an environment you enjoy. 

Intuitive Eating is a very different approach to food than what most of us have learned. It is a way to make food choices that honor your health and your taste. It takes a big picture perspective, focusing on what you eat consistently over time, and supports your ability to make the right kinds of adjustments to best create health.

Nutrition is a key component of health. If our bodies are not nourished through food and drink, we do not have the building blocks for healthy organ function, tissue repair, or cognition. At the same time, there are overwhelming amounts of information about what we should and should not eat. Nutrition Therapy helps you create a plan that best meets your own health needs. 

Based on Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size philosophies, Nutrition Therapy works with your relationship with food. Specifically, it places your relationship with food within the context of all aspects of your health: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. What we eat is very personal. An integrative approach to nutrition works with your own likes and dislikes, health history, constitution, and more. 

Intuitive Eating is a non-diet approach to eating. Instead, it works to build awareness of what your body is telling you about food. This includes learning to better notice when you are hungry and when you are full. It also helps inform what you eat, as you learn to distinguish different kinds of food cravings and how to honor them in a way that nourishes your health. 

Health at Every Size is based on the research-backed principle that your weight does not determine your health. We can cultivate health at every body size and body weight, and focusing on weight loss often causes harm. Myths and social attitudes about weight have damaged a lot of people’s relationship with food, and working through that distress helps create space for a more nourishing relationship. 

Nutrition Therapy will help you make more informed food choices and facilitate a deeper understanding of what you eat and why. Your Registered Dietician offers both compassion and expertise, helping you create a healthy personal relationship with food and nourishment.

We are an integrative health clinic, with 5 Domains, or pillars, of care. All of our therapies are evidence-based, which means that they are proven to be effective. We are also a collaborative practice, which means that our therapists work together for your care. We communicate with each other, and with your doctors as needed, about your treatments. This helps each treatment build on the one before to be more effective and support your health goals.

Our 5 Domains are:

Bodywork at Ha.Lé is evidence-based massage treatment for health. It blends ashiatsu, neuromuscular, myofascial release, structural integration, cupping therapy, and sports massage techniques, which means we are able to specifically address what is happening in your body. It is not a spa treatment just for relaxation, but a way to reduce pain, increase range of motion, and address spine, joint, and posture issues.

Somatics are movement-based therapies, offered mostly as classes, series, and workshops at Ha.Lé. Using techniques from yoga, tai chi, qigong, Feldenkrais, and body rolling, Somatics addresses how the body moves. It increases awareness of where the body is in space and how it moves through space, and can make those movement patterns more effortless. It also improves the health of muscle and tissue to reduce pain and increase relaxation.  

Acupuncture stimulates points on the body to regulate systems and address dysfunction. It uses techniques including needling, cupping, tui na, and herbal supplement formulas to help rebalance the body. This helps regulate physiological systems like digestion, cardiovascular, and endocrine. It reduces pain levels, improves sleep, and increases relaxation.

Nutrition offers guidance on eating from an integrative perspective. It focuses not only on quantity, but the quality of food for nourishment, and what foods work best for your particular constitution. Based in Ayurvedic practices, it is Health at Every Size and Intuitive Eating compatible. It treats food allergies and intolerances and chronic illness like celiac, IBS, and heart disease. 

Counseling offers mental and emotional solutions that incorporate psychotherapy, mindfulness-based practices, and cognitive behavioral therapy. We see individuals, couples, and families of all ages to treat anxiety, depression, addiction, trauma, grief, and LGBTQ issues.

Restorative practices are key to maintaining and creating health. Our bodies are designed to regularly have deep rest in order to reset the nervous system, flush the effects of stress, and rebalance internal processes, which all supports health and healing on a deep, fundamental level. Without enough restoration, our bodies become locked into chronic stress patterns that create dysfunction in our physical, mental, and emotional lives.

Mindfulness principles support restorative practices, which in turn creates a cascade of health benefits in the body. As the body moves into rest and restore mode, the heart rate will slow, the breath will deepen, and blood pressure will decrease. Common areas of muscular tension like the diaphragm, pelvis, and neck and shoulders, will begin to relax and release. As the musculoskeletal tension along the spine releases, the vertebrae will be able to make subtle adjustments toward alignment. The nervous system will also re-regulate itself, which helps to turn down the volume of pain signals, and other systems of the body like digestion, circulation, and circadian rhythms, will also reset and rebalance.

Mind Body Therapy uses this effectiveness of mindfulness and restoration to address specific health conditions.  At Ha.Lé, we always begin with a conversation, and the initial conversation for Mind Body Therapy will assess your health condition and personal goals. We will also seek to understand your current physical, mental, and spiritual capacity. This allows us to create a personalized mind body practice for you that applies mindfulness principles to optimize your health.

Your personalized mind body therapy practice can provide specialized techniques for a variety of specific health conditions. It can help with chronic pain from musculoskeletal conditions, and cardiovascular disease including heart failure and coronary heart disease. Mind Body Therapy can also address conditions like diabetes mellitus, obesity, anxiety, depression, post traumatic disorder, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, and fibromyalgia.

Mind Body Therapy is the application of principles of mindfulness for wellness and specific health conditions. Mindfulness techniques are able to turn the complex systems of the body toward restorative states, which creates space for deep healing and rebalancing.

Dr. Gurjeet Birdee is a researcher, scientist, physician, and mind body therapist. He is now available for Mind Body Therapy sessions at Ha.Lé.

Triphala is an Ayurvedic blend that is used to support digestive health and overall vitality. It is tridoshic, which means that it works for most people regardless of their constitution. Literally meaning “three fruits,” Triphala uses the fruits from three Indian medicinal plants to support internal cleansing, regulate digestion, and improve the absorption of of nutrients:

Amalaki is also known as Indian gooseberry and helps lower cholesterol. It supports the liver and immune system, and is a high source of vitamin C,

Haritaki is the Tibetan “king of medicine,” supporting the brain and the heart. It help clear toxins from the body.

Bibhitaki is a fruit that supports the respiratory system and promotes good bone production. It is a powerful ancient rejuvenator.

Triphala consists of five different tastes: sour, bitter, pungent, astringent, and sweet. Ideally it should be taken in a form where you can taste it, either as a tea or tablet, and not in a gelatin capsule. The act of tasting primes your body to digest and assimilate the blend more effectively. The taste will probably change each time you take it, because Triphala supplies the taste that your body needs. Over time, it can begin to taste sweet, but you may find it astringent or bitter for a while at the beginning.

Triphala nourishes and rejuvenates the digestive system, which is key to supporting health. It gently cleanses and detoxifies the system, while kindling the digestive fire and supporting the body’s absorption of more nutrients. It is a natural antioxidant, and is said to support graceful aging and overall well being.

Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb that has been used to support health for thousands of years. It is tridoshic, which means that it works for the constitution of most people, and is used to support, tone, and revitalize bodily functions. As an adaptogen, it is especially effective for countering the effects of stress.

In Sanskrit, ashwagandha means “the smell of a horse,” to say that the herb has the potential to impart a stallion’s vigor and strength. It counteracts the effects of stress that cause fatigue and agitation by nourishing the nervous system. This gives it a dual capacity to energize and calm at the same time.

Ashwagandha supports higher energy levels, strength, and vitality. It helps strengthen the immune system, calm mental distress, and foster healthy sleep. It can support the health of the thyroid and adrenals, reduce inflammation, and quiet the distress signals of the body to promote health and healing.

Overall, Ashwagandha is an herb that can reduce the effects of stress in order to increase vitality. It is well tolerated by most people, and can be a great support for general health and wellness. As one of the most widely helpful Ayurvedic herbs, Ha.Lé offers it in tablet form from a trusted, sustainable source.

Ayurvedic cleanses are centered around a monodiet that includes whole grains, legumes, vegetables, ghee, many spices, and a wide variety of flavors. It is a simplified diet, but it is not a fast. Meals are tasty and satisfying, with complete proteins and balanced nutrients. The goal is to balance vata, pitta, and kapha, digest and eliminate toxins (ama), balance and strengthen metabolic fire (agni), and restore the body’s natural intelligence. This helps to reset our baseline health at very deep levels.

Your body would probably benefit from an Ayurvedic cleanse if you have any digestive difficulties, you have intense food cravings, or it is hard for you to know when you are hungry or tired. You could also benefit if you have low energy or exhaustion, or have trouble sleeping or waking up. Anxiety, stress, scattered thoughts, lack of concentration, having a foggy head, and feeling lethargic also indicate that a cleanse could be helpful.

The benefits of cleansing affect the whole system. It calms the mind and nervous system, and brings clarity and a sense of groundedness. It helps restore energy and vitality, and regulates sleep and digestion. It also helps prepare the tissues to receive deep nutrition and rejuvenation and promotes optimal health.

A cleanse can be a one day digestive reset, a simple 3 day cleanse, or a traditional ayurvedic cleanse, which lasts 3 to 21 days, depending on what is appropriate for your body. A key consideration is how much time and energy you can devote to the cleanse, ideally taking time off work and allowing your body to turn as much of its energy as possible to the cleansing process.

Auyrveda is a comprehensive system of health that seeks to correct imbalances, ideally while they are still small and easy to shift. Cleansing around the change of seasons is an effective way to strengthen metabolic fire (agni) and support health and renewal on many levels.

The keys to taking care of your body while traveling are hydration, warding off insomnia, and body comfort. Biochemical processes don’t move as fast as cars and airplanes, so the body needs support in catching up. Here are some ways to practice self-care as you go:

1. Help reset your sleep cycle with exposure to natural sun for at least 20 min. Using a natural sleep aid such as melatonin or CBD oil can also help.

2. Balance the hips and release the neck and shoulders because those can get compacted during travel.

3. Stay more hydrated than usual. Coconut water and bottled spring water are especially good.

4. Diet-wise, eat bananas and maybe some nuts. Avoid fatty foods, spicy foods, dairy, and caffeine.

5. Take an epsom salt bath with a little lavender or something in it that rejuvenates to help with travel weariness.

6. Practice gentle forward fold pose: put your sitting bones against a wall, with your feet 12-18 inches from the wall and fold forward along your thighs. Relax into the pose and breathe into your back.

7. Take a twist: Doing gentle twists can release back tension and help relieve nausea and constipation.

8. Allow yourself a couple of days after your travel to recalibrate and settle back in.

9. Tell your stories to someone who can really listen. Trips can rearrange us a little, and we often return a little different from who we are when we left. Connecting with our people when we return can relieve emotional tension that otherwise could be held in the body.