How Did Your Mom's Relationship With Food Affect Your Own?

You likely got more than your hair color from your momma—there's no doubt that our mothers' relationship with food helps shape our own.

Even though my mom was always naturally slim, she kept her share of calorie counting books around the house. And she used to go on weird juicing kicks—or salad-and-bread-only diets—to lose a few pounds before summer. That diet mentality definitely took a toll on me:

When I was about nine, I started playing around with her calorie books, experimenting to see just how few calories I could eat in a day. Once I logged just 800. I excitedly told my mom and she said, “That’s good, Sunny!” Looking back, I realize that if she had been thinking clearly, or healthily, she would’ve said something more like, “What the heck are you doing counting calories?” or “That’s not enough—open your mouth and eat this sandwich!” But she honestly didn’t know any better at the time.

When I was fourteen and a sophomore in high school, I was nominated for Homecoming princess and my mom bought me a long, red satin gown for me at a thrift shop. It fit, but was a little too tight around the tummy. So she got me a gym membership. I remember the personal trainer who showed me around looking at us like we were crazy when my mom explained that “we” just wanted me to lose three or four pounds before Homecoming. Looking back, I realize that, instead of altering my body to fit the dress, we could’ve just altered the dress! But that wasn’t where my mom’s head was at.

Luckily, as we grow up, we have the chance to rid ourselves of any lessons we’ve learned that do more harm that good. I used to be pretty angry with my mother for the not-so-great lessons about body image and food that she taught me. But the truth is, she didn’t know how her issues and actions, in combination with my personality and predispositions toward eating problems, would backfire. And I’m not angry anymore.

Thinking back, how did your mom’s relationship with food influence yours? And what can you do to remind yourself that her beliefs don’t have to be your own?

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6 Responses to How Did Your Mom's Relationship With Food Affect Your Own?

  1. Darya says:

    My mom was one of those women who tried every diet fad. She let me start sharing her SlimFast breakfasts at age 11 and I never went back. I had never worried about weight or my body before, but it wasn’t too long before I started.

  2. kilax says:

    My mom was a binge-er… so I learned to binge eat too. And hoard food. And eat too fast. I still struggle with it now, and she still does it. I wish I could help her!

  3. lailai says:

    my mum is the complete opposite. Yes she is worried about her weight like any other women, but because of me she doesnt put it out there she is the blunt type she’s the kind of mum that sees you downing 2 bowls of icecream and says, “when your clothes don’t fit anymore don’t start crying to me.” (no expression) The shock alone will make you put down the bowl.

  4. [...] such great steps toward healing and getting sane about food. And thanks so much for writing in—this subject is super close to my heart. Like you and your mom, my mother and I are really close, too (we were even closer when I was [...]

  5. [...] was very fit and active when she was my age, but is not so much anymore. And we have so many of the same food habits (emotional eating anyone?) and characteristics, that I have always wondered if I will be unhealthy [...]

  6. [...] I grew up in a family where looks and thinness were prized. That meant foods that could make you “fat”—you know, anything yummy like sweets, [...]

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