A HAES support site criticizes my article, “Why the HAES Intuitive Eating Approach Promotes Obesity,” in part because I say that the intuitive eating approach can lead to gorging on junk food. HAES stands for “health at every size.”
The site is run by Annabel, and her response to my “HAES Intuitive Eating” article includes the following excerpt:
“I think we often don’t enjoy fruits and vegetables for the same reason we think we enjoy brownies, white flour foods – the moral ascriptions mess with our ability to actually feel what these foods do to our bodies. If fruits and vegetables are ‘good’ and constantly shoved down our throats by thin-privileged and elitist ‘professionals’ like Jillita, we may be less likely to enjoy them, ya know?”
HAES-supporter Annabel’s criticism clearly assumes that a disinterest in vegetables (and fruits) stems from what we are taught; that disliking vegetables is a learned behavior.
When I was a child, nobody taught me to dislike beets. Today I have 100 percent ownership of my mind, and I STILL hate beets. Though my mother said, “Eat your vegetables or you won’t get dessert,” this admonition wasn’t the cause of my dislike of vegetables; it was the RESULT!
If hating vegetables is a learned behavior, then why does this kind of “teaching” involve mostly vegetables? Why not ice cream or candy? Answer this, HAES: What triggers the “teaching” if children inherently dislike vegetables?
Annabel continues: “It’s like telling a kid that going to bed early is good for them – sure, it is, but nothing is enjoyable when it’s tied to restriction and dictatorship-like relationships.”
Really? If I’d been punished as a child by being made to eat Hostess Twinkies, I would have been the naughtiest kid in the neighborhood.
Growing up, I did not like my mother’s homemade cheesecake. Was this because it was tied to “restriction and dictatorship-like relationships”? Oddly, as an adult, I absolutely LOVE my mother’s cheesecake!
How a food tastes has nothing to do with rules and regulations. Green beans minus being soaked in sodium are bland. Why should they taste delectable when they are so low in sugar and fat?
HAES-minded Annabel suggests that we’d all love vegetables as much as donuts, pie and chips if — what, they were regarded as sinful and “bad”?
Try this experiment if you have a baby with teeth: Put in front of him some cooked carrots and a jelly donut. See which food he goes for. He’s too young to have been brainwashed by rules and regulations.
According to Annabel’s take, my niece should be crazy about carrots and celery because when she was a little girl, her mother rewarded her with these foods.
My niece, as she got older, went straight for the high sugar, high fat foods and ultimately became overweight. And this wasn’t because her mother didn’t allow sweets; she did!
HAES-advocate Annabel says, “…if I try fruits and vegetables on my own terms and allow myself to feel how they affect me, I may (or may not) decide that I actually feel well when I eat them and, hell, I may realize how truly delicious some of them are.”
In other words, I may actually enjoy beets, but I’m mentally blocking myself from doing so? Come on, I simply just hate beets; I was never made to associate them with anything negative or restrictive.
And guess what: I hate a lot of high sugar, fattening foods that many people crave and gorge on! I won’t touch any berry pie, cotton candy, candy corns, gummy-type candies, jelly beans, caramel, butterscotch, bear claws or root beer.
Annabel says: “I think people should try new foods and practice listening to their bodies so that they can actually gauge what make them feel good instead of doing what someone else says and, worse, doing what is supposedly good for weight-loss.”
Again, she strongly implies that our like or dislike for vegetables or other foods is based upon what’s been shoved our way by the diet industry, our parents when growing up, doctors, etc. This is utter nonsense.
Humans are genetically hardwired to crave high sugar, fattening foods, as a survival mechanism, and Daniel E. Lieberman, a professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard, is one of many who endorse this premise.
It makes a lot of sense: Suppose primitive man is trapped in his cave because there are giant raptors prowling outside. What will sustain him longer: vegetables, or cake and ice cream?
Of course, back then, cake and ice cream weren’t available; ancient man sought out the sweetest berries and fruits. Today we seek sweets out, except they’re behind the counter at bakeries rather than growing on shrubs and trees.
HAES is wrong; hating vegetables is not learned. HAES must also realize that it isn’t so much a hatred of vegetables, as much as a disinterest in them. Though I hate beets, this doesn’t mean I hate carrots just because I’ll never enjoy them like I do a chocolate bar.