It was ten years ago that conversations about food between mothers and daughters came to the public eye in an episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
In a 2013 reality show episode, then-teenager Gigi Hadid told her mother, Yolanda Hadid, “I’m really weak. I used to like half an almond.”
In response, Yolanda Hadid told her daughter, “Have some almonds and chew them well.”
Yolanda Hadid later said her comments were taken out of context and came when she was “half asleep” after having surgery, but her mother encouraged her daughter to limit food. It looks like there is
Today, judging by social media, the term “almond mom” is used to refer to parents who feed their children with unhealthy food beliefs or disordered diets.
The hashtag #almondmom brings in thousands of videos on TikTok alone. Most young women impersonate their parents, mostly mothers, doing everything from restricting their food intake to questioning their children’s dietary choices and exercising excessively. there is.
“Are you really hungry or are you just bored?” one woman said in one video, imitating the so-called almond mama.
“I just got back from a 12-mile walk and I’m hungry,” another woman, posing as “the almond mom,” says in the video as she measures out two almonds to eat.
Tyler Bender, a 20-year-old digital creator from Denver, said she shot a quick video at a grocery store. gained followers. A store that satirizes what she described as “a skinny mom on a diet.”
“I went to the nut vending machine and got one nut and put it in a bag and tied it up,” Bender told Good Morning America. “I thought people would be like, ‘Oh, that’s so weird and weird,’ but there were so many people who could relate to it.”
She continued, “It’s like a community of comments, the number of people who are like, ‘This is healing for me.'”
Bender said he continues to be amazed at how his videos resonate with people, including his own mother.
“My mom’s been watching them and thinks they’re hilarious, but I know she was watching them and was like dialing it back,” Bender said. “I think anyone watching them knows. OK, it’s time to dial back. You don’t have to worry so much all the time.”
Bender says her videos aren’t meant to glorify or highlight restricted diets, but to use humor to shed light on the diet culture that permeates her family to this day. said.
“Hey, it’s kind of like flagging this behavior as not normal. If you’re seeing this, say something or you know it’s not cool and not normal,” she said. “My parents said, ‘I don’t want to pass on my diet culture to my daughter, I don’t want her to take diet pills like I did, so I’m going to watch my mouth now, because my kids I think I’ve become more conscious of “because I see everything.”
The ‘almond mama’ trend on social media comes as eating disorders continue to be an ongoing crisis in the United States.
Eating disorders are second only to opioid overdoses as the deadliest mental illness across the coronavirus pandemic, according to data shared by the National Association for Anorexia Nervosa and Related Disorders. It causes one death in the United States every 52 minutes.
About 30 million Americans will have an eating disorder in their lifetime, according to the organization.
Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are diagnosed by specific criteria defined by the American Psychiatric Association.
The more general eating disorders are those that describe erratic eating behavior or preoccupation with food, weight, and body image, rather than specific diagnoses.
Virginia Sole-Smith, author of her soon-to-be-published book Fat Talk: Parenting in the Age of Diet Culture, notes that while family life clearly influences how children think about food, the “almond mom” trend, The only one doing damage is mom.
“We know that eating disorders have many different causes, so mothers aren’t the only ones,” Saul Smith told ABC News. “There’s a genetic component. There’s an environmental component. All of these are different.”
She continued, “Parents of all genders have a real impact on their child’s relationship with food and their bodies, and there’s a lot of potential for harm there, but it’s not just limited to mothers.
Registered dietician and nutritionist Maya Ferrer agrees, in research showing that the “almond mom” trend has a huge impact not just on mothers, but on parents’ perceptions of their children’s food. It is said to be consistent with
“Whatever the family food culture is, it shapes the way children perceive it, and I think it’s separate from gender.” You can see that it has been passed down to
Both Ferrer and Saulsmith acknowledge that parents’ influence is limited, as children are also influenced by what they see on social media and pop culture.
Sole-Smith, author of the newsletter Burnt Toast, says navigating diet culture and fatphobia can be particularly difficult for parents. Even body-positive role models like Lizzo and the self-awareness seen in the “Almond Mama” video help, but it’s an uphill battle.
“Gen Z is fluent in naming concepts such as diet culture, fat phobia, and intuitive eating, and I certainly noticed in my report that these are words that are not alien to them. said Saul Smith. “They are still swimming in the same ocean that we swim in, and something emerges.”
Of the role parents play, she added, “parents can counteract it or reinforce it.”
What Parents Can Learn from the ‘Almond Mom’ Trend
According to Sole-Smith and Feller, when it comes to helping children raise healthy relationships with food and eating, parents can start by creating a “safe space” in their home.
“The home in terms of children’s bodies being respected, trusted, treated with dignity, their food preferences respected, food treated without demonization, and a love of physical activity. Make it a place where exercise is encouraged, movement to keep your body in shape,” Saulsmith said, adding that parents can also talk to their kids about the diet and weight messages they see in pop culture. .
Ferrer also recommends that parents be “neutral” when it comes to food.
“Obviously, as a parent, I sometimes see my kids not eating their vegetables. ‘ She said, ‘Food is not a reward or a punishment. Food is food.
Parents can also help by providing structures that empower their children, Feller said.
“Then it’s the child who decides whether or not to eat and how much to eat,” Ferrer said. “We don’t need a power struggle over what is consumed.”
Sole-Smith recognizes that with his own children, it’s normal development for children to be picky and dissatisfied. said he was paying attention.
Both Feller and Saulsmith emphasized that the best thing parents can do is set a good example in their own behavior.
“They learn more from watching us than we do from counting broccoli bites,” Sole-Smith said, adding of her own approach. Then eat and enjoy your own meal. I don’t think too much about what they eat or don’t eat. The more I do, the more relaxed I am, the more they try different foods. .”
If you or someone you know is battling an eating disorder, contact the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) at 1-800-931-2237 or NationalEatingDisorders.org.