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Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight [Paperback]

Linda Bacon
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 4 2010
Fat isn't the problem. Dieting is the problem. A society that rejects anyone whose body shape or size doesn't match an impossible ideal is the problem. A medical establishment that equates "thin" with "healthy" is the problem.
The solution?

Health at Every Size.

Tune in to your body's expert guidance. Find the joy in movement. Eat what you want, when you want, choosing pleasurable foods that help you to feel good. You too can feel great in your body right now-and Health at Every Size will show you how.

Health at Every Size has been scientifically proven to boost health and self-esteem. The program was evaluated in a government-funded academic study, its data published in well-respected scientific journals.

Updated with the latest scientific research and even more powerful messages, Health at Every Size is not a diet book, and after reading it, you will be convinced the best way to win the war against fat is to give up the fight.

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Product Description

About the Author

Linda Bacon, Ph.D., earned her doctorate in physiology, specializing in weight regulation, from the University of California, Davis. She also holds graduate degrees in psychology, specializing in eating disorders and body image, and exercise science, specializing in metabolism, and has professional experience as a researcher, clinical psychotherapist, exercise physiologist and educator.

Dr. Bacon is currently an associate nutritionist at the University of California, Davis and the lead investigator for a clinical research study that evaluates the Health at Every Size program, co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She is also a nutrition professor in the biology department at City College of San Francisco. Additionally, she maintains a private practice, advising individuals, health care professionals and institutions on strategies for implementing the Health atEvery Size program.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book March 30 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A great read, incredibly informative and way more reaffirming than most other 'self help' books you'll find out there. Definitely recommend.
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1 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Health at Nobodys Size Aug. 10 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What a bunch of garbage disappointing at best from this author. What the hell here?.. ....... Not happy at all.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  72 reviews
105 of 111 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be Prepared to Have Your Ideas about Health Challenged April 14 2011
By Shaunta Grimes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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.
47 of 54 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Half great, half terrible Jan. 12 2013
By Jodi-Hummingbird - Published on Amazon.com
Format: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)
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For everyone who is sick and tired of dieting .... Aug. 16 2011
By Jessie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read for everyone concerned about obesity Jan. 13 2011
By Obistat - Published on Amazon.com
Format: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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review by a medical doctor July 18 2014
By L. Forrest - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
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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