Mom's Dieting Leads to Daughters' Eating Disorders

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Growing up, my mom was always on (or off) of a diet. I always knew she was "back on the wagon" when the grocery bags were filled with frozen diet meals, meal replacement bars and diet "cookies". Notice I did not say the bags were filled with lots of fresh fruits and veggies, but that's another story. Although she never commented about my weight and always encouraged me to be happy with my body, I can't say that her behaviors didn't influence me. I saw the struggles she went through- losing weight, trying to keep it off, and eventually gaining it back. I swore I would never go through the same thing, and although I haven't had to, I've always been very conscious of my weight because of it.

A new survey from the teen magazine Sugar found that girls whose mothers diet are almost twice as likely to have an eating disorder. The survey of 12-18 year olds found that 6% had an eating disorder, but that number increased to 10% among those who saw their mother's diet. Although the teenage years are a common time for children to rebel against their parents, it's surprising that 38% said their mother had the greatest influence on how they perceived themselves.

56% of teens surveyed have mothers on a diet, and 51% say they have dieted themselves. Many of the girls in the survey discussed their mother's negative body image and how it impacts them. They also talked about being called "fat" or other negative names by family members, and how strongly that influences their body image and self-esteem.

Although my daughter is still young, I try to set a good example for her. She sees that I'm a strong runner who is healthy and fit, even if I'm not a size 2. Every day I work on accepting my body for what it is. I also talk to her about how special and wonderful her body is, all in the hopes that I transfer those positive feelings to her.

What do you think? How did your mother's dieting habits impact you? How do you instill a positive body image in the young women in your life?

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My parents overall made healthy choices! Most all of our fruits and veggies came out of an orchard or from the garden. We grew and ate what we grew. -- It was my dad that went on an "anti-all-things-sugar" kick that caused some rebellion on our part. But his replacement was honey. Tasty--just pretty hard to make baked goods w/ honey.

I was blessed with what must have been a high metabolism in my youth. -- Weight was never an issue until after having 3 kids in my 30's, changing careers, being an "older mom" and not ever having a background in understanding the place for and benefits of strength training.

* What I HAVE seen, is my 12 yod who has friends who are constantly fixating on their weight, diets, starving themselves, and general backlash to the diets that their mothers are on and that their mothers are FORCING on their kids.

The health and fitness that I seek can be shared with others if they ask, but never forced. (I will not buy regular amounts of pop & chips for the household or other "empty" junk. When a friend's mom shares junk she gets free from work, I either decline or put it in the compost pile. We just don't need it in our home!) Report
My mom was a self-proclaimed "junk food junkie" and my dad's whole family was morbidly obese. I managed to emotionally eat all the junk food and carbs I wanted and maintain a "thick" but manageable weight because I was an athlete. However, in my early teens the eating disorder began to show up, rearing ugly heads of many different symptoms of various eating problems. I don't blame my mom for the constant plethora of junk food in the house, or my dad for the huge portions we always had. I made the choices I made on my own... but I won't say I wasn't strongly influenced by the very unhealthy food concepts in my childhood home. There IS something to the way we influence others with our eating habits, whether we realize it or not. Report
Remember, all those photos in those magazines, TV etc. are airbrushed and are FAKE! Those celebrities have SOOOOOOOO much make-up on them, and got the lightings etc. adjusted and computers to modify all their imperfections~ Report
I really condemn those magazines on the shelves and the media for distorting the 'NORMAL' shape of a woman. So that we as women no longer know what IS 'normal' and so many women feel insecure about their body.
What affected me most was learning HOW to manage weight from my mother. I've always known she had my best interests at heart. Having struggled with her own weight her whole life (to this day), she never wanted me and my sister to have similar struggles. She took us to a nutritionist when I was in 5th grade. I *do* blame the nutritionist for the next 15 years of my horrible weight management. The talk started with 'no pizza, pasta, potatoes, pancakes...' and got worse from there. NEVER EVER a word about fitness or strength training or feeding my body decent amounts of GOOD food. It was all about deprivation - how few calories I should eat and how many foods I should NEVER eat. It wasn't until a friend introduced me to the South Beach diet and another friend introduced me to Clean Eating magazine that I began to truly understand good nutrition. Report
My Mom wasnt as much of an issue as my dad and brother. Mom would use food to show you she loved you or to say she was sorry. Lets say Mom yelled at me for something, and then realized she was wrong. She wouldnt say "I'm sorry" she would buy me goodies. But dad and my brother constantly told me and my sisters how fat we were. Fat was lumped in there with worthless, lazy, stupid, and "would never amount to anything". I wasnt over weight until high school, and not overly so then, but self image was already blown. I became an emotional eater and gained alot with my pregnancys. My husband at the time (my ex now) started in where they left off. He used to tell me I was lucky to have him, because I was fat and no one else would have me. If I tried to lose weight, he would accuse me of doing it because I had found another man or was trying to. But now, I am with someone who loves me for me no matter what size. I have since come to terms with a lot of issues and my emotional eating. I have lost 53 pounds and working on the last 22. Report
I fully believe this. I really think my step-son is starting on the path of eating disorder because of his mom's beligerant attitude towards food. I find my 8 yr old step son looking at the calories on food labels and saying he can't eat something because it has too many calories. I always tell him he needs to eat those calories so he will get bigger and stronger (he's 56 lbs and close to 4'7" tall).

At our house we preach eating healthy and exercising, they even like working out with me. I keep reminding him that he needs to eat good food not bad food, let me worry about the calories. He is still so worried that he will get fat. I know his mother is a big cause of this, as he's told me she's said he's getting too big, but sometimes I worry how much I am a problem as well. It's such a difficult balance.

My mother was always trying to lose weight when I was growing up. She even went as far as to have her mouth wired shut so that she could only have liquids.

I have battled my weight for a long time. Most of it is because of emotional eating.

Mom would always make comments about my weight. One time, she came to visit me and when I opened the door, there was no "hello." It was her bursting into tears saying "I've never seen you this big!"

She got a lapband about 2 yrs ago. She has it unhealthy tight and she ends up vomiting alot. She looks like the living dead. She drenches everything in butter or gravy "so that it will go down." Yet she brings cakes to my house and candy.

I have ended up in tears so much after her visits and it leads me right to emotional eating again.

My self esteem hardly exists.

I think a parent can diet...but eating healthy would be better. And not being cruel to your child would help alot too. Report
For me, the pressure to be thin and pretty - to be perfect - came from both my mother and my peers. My mother never liked anything about the way we looked. If it wasn't our weight it was something else. At school the overweight and/or unattractive kids were harassed endlessly and I never wanted to be that poor kid. I know all of this is at the root of my desire to be perfect at everything I do.

I should add that I NOW know that perfection isn't possible but that doesn't mean I don't have to tell myself that every single day.

We do worry because my wife and I are always dealing with our weight issues. We fear that our daughter will become anorexic trying to avoid the problems we have with weight.

One thing about our daughter is she has a lot of volition. When she draws a line in the sand and decides something she can be the most stubborn, tenacious kid you ever saw. If she ever decided not to eat until she lost a certain amount of weight she would do it. Report
How did your mother's dieting habits impact you?
My mother has often been trying to lose weight or been 'on a diet'. However, she has never lost an unhealthy amount of weight neither has she been excessively overweight. I believe she has taught me to exercise for health and fun (she is over 70 and still walks, does yoga, and uses an exercise bike) and to make healthy choices with food (lots of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, etc.).

How do you instill a positive body image in the young women in your life?
I exercise consistently, I make healthy choices with my food, but not deprive myself of all treats which I think would make them more desirable. Time will tell if I have done this well or not.

cj Report
My mother and grandmother had a huge impact on my poor perception of my body. My mom was always very thin and had a different build than me. She resorted to very unhealthy ways to stay as thin as she was. My mother and my sister both had the same frame. My sister picked up on my mother's "diet" which consisted of barely eating. When looking at the 3 of us I was always bigger even though I was an average weight. My grandmother made comments about my weight when I was very young. Both my sister and I became obsessed with our body image. She since then has stopped her dangerous diet of not eating. I swore that I would never go down that path and I would work to make my body look good. Now everyone "including my grandma" tells me how great I look and my mom always brags to her friends about how I got skinny the healthy way. I still am not 100% comfortable with myself but I worked damn hard to get to where I am now and I am proud of myself for not taking the unhealthy route that was so deeply pressed into my mind. Report
This issue is something that is at the forefront for me. My mother has never liked anything about me and was open about it so of course my perception is screwed up, but I work hard everyday to believe the truth. I am ok the way the God made me. I was thin growing up but when I had kids I gained weight each time unable t to loose it. Once I was done having kids I went on many diets but not ones that impacted the family much because of my mother issues I never wanted anyone to know because that would be admitting she was right and what if I failed.... Anyway, about 6 years ago I decided I had to suck it up and be open about it. I changed what and how much I ate, started a diet diary, and started working out 45 min. to 1 hour 6 days a week. It was tough but I lost a bunch of weight and now work to keep it off plus take off a few more pounds...

Anyway, the big reason this hits me so hard is my daughter. She is 16 and well .... She was a big baby, she was a big toddler, and now as a teenager she is strong as an ox and built like a lineman. When she was little she hid food and she would eat until she got sick if I didn't intervene. So, her whole existance I have been between her and food and then I lost a bunch of weight. I wish I had known how to deal with this better or even correctly.

She struggles with how others treat her because of her weight, she struggles with the fact that mom counts her calories and works out which of course means if mom needs to do that she must think bad things about my weight. I have her in counseling. I know I have a huge responsibility for her feelings and wish I could make it all better. I hope and pray she can forgive me my failings and that I will be a better grandmother (some day, no rush, she's just a child) than I am a mother. Report
Oh heck yes. My mother was weight obessesed and was overweight. She taught me how to weigh myself every morning when I was 5 (always first thing after you pee and before you brush your teeth she'd say.) Every time I'd start to gain a little weight she'd start telling me how "chunky" and "fat" I was starting to look. When I look back on photos of myself as a child now I realize I looked fine, and sometimes fairly thin. Mom was a nut.

Now that I'm healthy and determined to set a good example for the kids I make sure I feed them healthful food, but I don't refuse to ever let them have treats. We just talk about the fact that to grow strong and healthy our bodies need lots of the healthful foods (and we discuss what those are) and to eat less of the "treats" (again, we talk about what those are). But I also don't let them eat too much of any one thing (even heatlhy fruits and grains) if they're not eating the other stuff. To get seconds of anything (other than veggies) they have to eat their other food too. I also never force them to eat everything on their plate. If they're full, they're full. There's just no dessert or other food or seconds if they don't eat what's on their plate already. It works for us. And I don't know how many times my kids have had a dinner made entirely of spinach or broccoli. But they also wind up balancing themselves out over time. My kids do like stepping on the scale because they see me do it, but I don't attach any judgement to it. I don't think they totally realize what "weight" is. They just like seeing the numbers pop up. I use it more for math practice (counting, rocognizing numbers, and what effect decimal points have on a number) than for anything health or weight-related. I do use the number myself to make sure they're within a healthy range, but I just file it away to see if I think they need more activity and veggies and fewer treats. I don't associate the two for them. Report
Wow, what a fascinating correlation! I can honestly say that I never put those two together--mother's self image and mine. I can not be satisfied with my self image and I know my mother was ALWAYS on a diet when I was growing up. I believe my father played a key role in that as well. Great post! Report
Of course our parents influenced us. At my house, dinner was always two courses - pasta first, then meat and vegetables of some sort. There were always 3 cookies in my lunch on Fridays. The thing is, I am an adult, so now I choose what to keep from my childhood and what to throw away. My parents are people too, and they don't have to be perfect, and I do not blame them for anything. I am an adult, and if I don't like the way I am, I need to change myself, not waste my time looking for someone to point my finger at. I choose to be productive and give my parents a break! Report
Before I married my husband, my step-daughter spent summers with her aunt following the death of her mom. Her aunt had been very heavy in high school and was and is very anxious about gaining any weight back. Her eating habits are horrid and unfortunately my step-daughter picked up on some of those habits. So much so that she became anorexic. It was a long battle getting her to accept a healthy way of eating and healthy ways of maintaining weight. Thankfully, she got the help and support she needed and is doing great! Report
My mom has been a yoyo dieter her whole life. It wasn't her dieting that affected me though, it was her size. I look at her now and think there's no way I want to be that big when I'm her age and it helps me to keep on track :) Report
My mother was and still is my best support. Both she and my father saw me as an active, fit youngster and teen. I saw myself as fat, fat and fat. I grew up on a farm, we ate healthy, were active and we didn't diet. When my father noticed my brother was gaining love handles at age 13yrs old, he didn't place my brother on a diet, he changed what we were eating. My mother worked out, my father was stay at home. My father stepped up our activity level to a daily walk - in addition to all the hard farm work we were already doing. We did it as a family. We've always approach things as a solid family. I'm fortunate that way. And I still dieted myself to being overweight - it wasn't my mother or my family, it was society and school issues. I believe if it wasn't for my mother, I would still be locked in eating disorders or dead. Report
My mom has never really been a dieter, but she does have weight and health issues. She's a diabetic, but has always eaten horribly for her condition. I grew up in a house where Hostess Cupcakes and ice cream were staples, and while I can't blame my mom for my weight, I know that her example has made a HUGE impact on what foods I choose.

I'm finally moving out in two weeks at age 20 and I have sworn that my fridge and cupboards will look nothing like the ones here. I'm not sure how well this is going to go, but I know I don't want to be a slave to sugar like she is! Report
My mother is 5'5" and weighs 98lbs, that being said she is one of the most unhealthy eaters that I know of. Growing up I didn't know it was possible to eat a vegetable unless it had been battered and deep fried! As an adult I can see that her food choices affect her health and have caused serious health issues. As a result I have tried to teach my children to eat healthy and not focus on the weight side of it so much Report
My mom was thin until she turned 40. Most of her weight gain at that point was due to depression over my grandmother's passing, and a live-in who forced her to eat constantly instead of letting her do her own thing. Before that, she always ate salad, cottage cheese, fruit, applesauce, and jell-o. I think the worst thing on the menu was tortilla chips with grated cheddar cheese on top, but since she ate that with fresh salsa, even that wasn't as bad as it could have been.

My mother was never on a diet, I think "diet" is a misnomer, and even now every time I hear "I'm on a diet" from a woman, I always pity her for torturing herself with deprivation and I pity her children because of the preconceptions about weight and dieting that they will undoubtedly have growing up. Report
Not just my mom, but all the members of my family have impacted my eating habits. Not in a negative way however. We have a very strong history of diabetes in my family, with nearly everyone over 40 or so suffering from this disease. It has strongly motivated me to watch my diet and weight to avoid the same fate. Report
I think my mother influenced my diet. My grand mother was fat so my mom was always trying to get fit specialy after she gave birth to me and gained some extra weight ( until then she was slim). She was scared to be fat as my grandmother and this kind of influenced me because when i was little she told me i'm too fat for my age(i wasn't) I got tired of the diets, and did't care about my weight. If she was scared to get fat(and eventualy did get),than I was too bored of all this fuss that's made around this and ate all i wanted. I'm not really fat now but i'm at the limit of normality so i try to have a normal weight and a healthy diet for me and for my future family. Report
With the way my mom was/is, it is no wonder that I became anorexic then bulimic. She has always been a yo-yo dieter and insists that she is overweight. Rarely has she ever actually been overweight. I had degrading nicknames/pet-names and was cautioned about getting over a certain weight, about puberty leading to being overweight and therefore unwanted, etc. When I lost weight (from a previously healthy/thin size), I was praised. However food was a bribe, a way to love and a way to soothe sorrow/comfort, and multiple servings were mandatory--yet I was not allowed to gain weight. All of that contradiction obviously leads to disordered eating. It is difficult to combat it when it is so much a part of daily life. Report
My mom watched her weight, but not incessently. However, when I started to grow in the 6th grade, I was in that limbo between having bad habits catch up to you and starting to be a serious athlete. At 5' and 135 lbs, she decided I needed to go on a diet. The nutritionist she took me to strongly urged to let me get into my sports and see what happened (the weight had been taken at a sports physical), but my mom insisted. It started an obsession for me that became a huge problem as I got older. That coupled with her and my grandfather's hounding me about losing weight (even though I finally was 5'5" and 128 lbs) is a lot of what started my weight issues after I got pregnant at 18. I am now morbidly obese and still trying to sort out this and the other issues that have caused all this weight gain. Be very careful what you teach your daughters...things like this stick more than you think! Report
this article hit me hard, because i am the 3rd generation of eating disorders created by my mom's dieting as i was growing up...

and my daughter has an eating disorder, which makes her the 4th! i have been trying to work with her disorder, and she exercises exercises exercises.. but her feelings about herself are based on her weight--and no matter how hard i try to discourage that, it seems to be having little effect... HELP!! Report
Now I am worried. I do all those things with diet food dinners,etc. But I do buy fruit and vegetables for my daughter. She is 12, and hates red meat, banannas, carrots.. I have to beg her to drink milk. I am lucky if she gets a full 8oz in a week. She refuses to take vitamins because they gag her. Oh, boy, this site has stressed me. Report
My Mother provided three well-balanced meals a day. We had dessert only on holidays or Sunday. The meals were predictable (Roast chicken every Sunday, salmon casserole every Friday, etc.) and she was a good cook. We ate whatever vegetables were in season and in the winter, had canned, preserved or root veggies. I can't remember treats or candies other than nuts and hard candy at Christmas, Easter bunnies at Easter and treats from halloween. The only exception was that they always had a cocktail before dinner and my father would give me a glass of ginger ale with a marashino cherry in it. My parents were big on sports and my fitness and weight were excellent even after I had my five chidlren. So I can't blame my Mother for the weight I put on in later years. Report
Wow, my mom did influence me quite a bit now that i think of it. we always had snacks in the house. we had to try the newest ones. i was never much of a candy person but she always had candy. she was never really on a diet but always had that thought of losing weight. she used to say i was getting fat and i should stop eating so much junk food. but what was i supposed to do - it was in the house. when i got a job and started buying my own food, i bought snacks all the time. anything from Doritos and chex mix to soy nuts and sunflower seeds and rice crackers. i was somehow under the impression that if i ate healthier snacks it would help. but it didn't. when i moved out i made a brief attempt at a "diet" and it worked for a little bit until i got sick of it. but for the last couple years i really only had the thought of losing weight. i tried but never hard enough. just like my mom. i still ate junk food all the time and still kept complaining about being fat. finally this year i took control of my eating habits. looking back it almost seems effortless. all i did was start by tracking my food. Now things have turned around and i have actually been a good influence on my mom. she started doing the same thing. it's harder for her to stick with something so for even more good influence I'm making her a cookbook in hopes it helps keep her on a positive path. Report
I don't remember when I've read an article that sparked so much discussion! I read most of these comments My response is from the mother that did the damage viewpoint. I don't remember a time that I wasn't on a diet. I always tried to maintain 125 pounds (I'm 5'6") - and did (at least until I hit menopause era). I always got back down to 125 after each of my four children. I exercised every day - I could not go to sleep if I had not exercised for at least 45 minutes that day. My goal was never to be stick thin - I just wanted to maintain. I wanted to be fit. I had no idea how much my obsession was affecting my three girls.

It wasn't until my middle daughter had a severe eating disorder that my husband said "I wonder who she got that from." I was honestly shocked! I NEVER considered that I had an eating disorder! To this day, I am never happy with the way I look. In 2000 I suffered from adrenal exhaustion had gained 35 pounds in 6 months. If I thought I struggled then; well this is much worse, but I am trying to not make a big deal about it because now I have 9 grandchildren and do not want to make the same mistake with them. Their mothers (my daughters) are exceedingly aware of the whole healthy body image and try to teach a healthy eating lifestyle.

We could all blame the media (for our generation it was Twiggy!), but ultimately, it is our own thoughts and actions that "approve" of what is considered "beautiful". What we buy, how we dress and yes, how we diet. Where does it all end? Report
I know that my mom's eating and dieting has influenced me... but I certainly do not blame her for how I am.

The only time my mother ever tried to place me on a diet was when I was a junior in high school. She had been on NutriSystem for a while and took me in for a consultation - I weighed 224 pounds at the time and the "consultant" at NutriSystem put my information into the computer and it said I should weigh 112 pounds. The consultant said - well, that can't be right and ran the numbers again. My mother more or less stormed out at that point because the system kept saying "112 pounds". The reason the consultant was so surprised and my mother was so upset was because I am (and was even then) 6 feet tall. The only way I could weigh 112 pounds would be to cut off a limb or 2! I am tall and curvy with big breasts and big hips and wide shoulders - I am designed to weigh around 180. I have never even been that small, so I am still struggling... Report
Yes, my mother was always dieting and putting me on diets as well. Lecturing me about how much harder it will be when I get older. I look a photos of myself in high school and remember being soooo fat. But in the photos I don't look that bad. I wore size large but I could shop regular stores.... Report
The only negative habit that I had instilled in me from my mom was that you always had to have desert after every meal. Now I have this need for a sweet of some sort before I feel full. She was also a "clean your plate before you can leave the table" sort of person but you were never dished out a huge amount to begin with.

My fear now is that I have an 8-year-old daughter who weighs 60 lbs and is at an absolutely ideal weight but tells me all of the time that she is fat and needs to lose weight. I tell her that she is exactly where she should be and that she is beautiful but it seems to fall on deaf ears. I have never been a "dieter". Only recently I have gained due to a back injury and a period of inactivity. Even now I have not told her that I'm dieting, only cutting back and trying to exercise again as the body allows. We eat healthy for the most part and she is active in dance class and seemingly happy otherwise. My husband never would even joke about her being fat, so I'm really not sure where her negative body image is coming from.

If anyone has any advice on how to help me with my daughter I would much appreciate it! Report
although my mother was overweight andnever did much about it she did manage to let me know I was slightly overweight and I think that did more damage than anything else. When I did manage to lose some weight she never said much but when I gained it back I knew it. Thanks for posting this because I now have two daughters and one son of my own and want to not only be a healthier person for myself but for them as well. Report
My 15 yr-old son is 5'7 and 124lbs and an accomplished athlete (soccer). Quite fit. And he wants to go on the Atkins Diet because he thinks he has flab. Guilt! Guilt! Report
My mother was an excellent cook and baker and she never weighed more than 125 pounds how she did it I do not know cause she ate the same stuff we did she lived to 95 and one half years. I did not have a weight concern til five children we given to us. then I gained 10 pounds for each child and have been taking it off and putting it back on for several years. So no do not put my problems on my mothers concern for me. Report
definitely gives those of us who are parents something huge to consider. my daughter is 13 and i so do not want to pressure her to feel negatively about her body. i don't want her to struggle with extra weight OR an eating disorder. let's hope the healthy life changes i'm making with the help of spark people will set a new precedence in our family for future generations! Report
My mother was a yo-yo dieter and never quite felt good enough about her body, and while I look up to her in so many ways, I'm sorry I follow in her footsteps in this regard, but I'm working on my own self-image and learning not to take the negative cues we're bombarded with in this society. Report
I don't think it's your mother's dieting that leads to an eating disorder; it's when your mother tells you to bend over in the front of the mirror and look at your stomach hanging down (at 118 pounds, 5'3) , then, on top of it, dance class, and being shown how to puke into a toilet by ballerinas, and then turning on the TV and seeing ONE NASTY LOOKING BODY TYPE represented everywhere, as if that's all there is to aspire to - that's what causes eating disorders.

It is a combination of factors. My mother did pills, puking, everything; her eating disorder PLUS the other factors contributed to my own.

However, I have a daughter who is a type 1 diabetic. She has to use insulin for everything she eats. She cannot binge. She cannot purge. She measures all her food and knows portion control, she reads food labels and she is allergic to (get this) soy, wheat, eggs, nuts, peanuts especially, dairy, fish and shellfish. I do not think that her dietary situation could possibly lead to an eating disorder. After all, one person's diet (like hers) could be construed as an eating disorder in and of itself by outsiders. However, Katie knows what she sees on TV is crap in terms of body image.

I have high hopes for the cycle ending with her. I am devastated by her diabetes, but it has forced me personally to measure everything we eat, all of us, and I can often tell how much something is by putting it in my palm. I am getting heatlhy now as a result, and SP is a valuable tool. I have not binged and purged for quite a while now (by my standards) and it's because I am learning portion control. SO my daughter sees me that going to cause an eating disorder? Not by itself. She knows I want to be fit. And that she HAS to be healthy. She does not share my love of exercise and that saddens me.

However, eating disorders are not the result of any one factor. I should know. Report
Not just mothers. The male members of the family can have a big influence on their kids. I know a pediatrician and his wife who were always dieting and one son was anorexic at the age of 14. My niece was bulimic - her dad was always very weight conscious. Report
This article is not what I expected. I found the title and the picture displayed misleading. I was expecting to read about a child with an eating disorder. Report
My mom's favorite way of losing weight was diet pills from the doctor's office. After I was on my own, and my mom saw I was gaining weight, she'd always offer me some of her diet pills. At first, I went for it, but after my own bouts with the yo-yo affect, I knew I couldn't take mom's pills forever, and quit that process. She still does this and that to lose weight, but I'm glad she's quit taking the diet pills! Goodness, she's 80 years old! Report
Absolutely, a mother is a major influence on her daughter's image. My mother struggled with her weight...she and I ate on the "little plates" while my brother and father ate on the "big plates". "Bad food" was not kept in the house, and food was considered a treat for doing well at something. At easter we got money, not chocolate! I was not overweight, but gaining weight was a constant worry for me because it was a constant issue with my mother...there was always the comment of "don't eat that you'll get fat". It was a fear put into my head based on someone else's perception, not a reality of my own. I realized when I moved away from home that I had some pretty rooted and incorrect ideas about food and my body image, and I worked very hard to correct this - and it even took some sessions of professional counselling and nutrition classes. Habits and ideas are formed as youths, learned and reinforced by parents, and it is hard to retrain yourself...but it can be done. There is now always every type of food in my house, from chocolate to cheese to crackers to wine to nuts to salads...and because there's an abundant array there, I can take it or leave it. Food should never be used as a reward/punishment...instead of good/bad foods there should be daily versus once-in-awhile foods...and a lifetime of healthy eating should be encouraged in daughters rather than a "diet". Our girls have SO much pressure and image misconceptions to deal with on tv, in schools, with peers - they are inundated with it. It is imperative that the one person in their lives with the most influence - their mother - accepts their looks and their weight unconditionally. Report
This is an eye-opener for me. I certainly see the truth in this. As I was growing up my mother and all her friends were constantly on and off weight watchers. As the plan evolved and incorporates latest health trends I have tailored to meet my needs. As a young person I maintained 105-110 throughout college, but felt extremely overweight. Now, after having health issues which after a tremendous weight gain I am having difficulty finding my ideal weight. I am now hovering close to my younger weight, but still feel huge. I fortunately don't believe I have an actual eating diorder, but the mindset remains firmly in place. When made aware of this, it caused some concern. Reading your article has helped a great deal by the realization that my situation isn't just my own distorted thinking, but that others share some of the same. I wish the best to all and a healthy resolution. Report
I feel lucky. My mother was born and raised in Poland, so she was never brainwashed by American media about how she should look. Growing up, and even to this day, she has always emphasized Moderation in All Things. She never forced me or my sisters to clean our plates, but to eat until we were satisfied.

There's a flip side, though. My mother didn't understand the role of exercise. To her way of thinking, you only exercised if you needed to lose weight. She didn't know about its effect on heart health, reducing blood pressure, etc. She was truly confused about why I enjoyed dancing and lifting weights w/ Jane Fonda & Kathy Smith. To her credit, though, she never tried to stop me. She just thought I was a little weird. lol. Report
As a grandfather, who sees his 12 year old granddaughter (going on 18) about once a week, I don't have a lot of input about her eating regimen. However my DW and I recognize that there are times that children are hungry and when they are not. When she has a meal with us, she eats a lot, average, or a little. We never force her to eat when she's not hungry.

Some "crazy" girls in school have commented about how fat she is, I guess because you can't see her ribs or something. Her Dad, Uncle and Aunt, my DW and I reinforce the fact that she is NOT fat.

She hunts and fishes and she is wild about softball. She plays on a traveling competitive team in the summer, and on an early fall league. She plays shortstop, which requires her to me nimble and quick. She often gets to foul balls behind third base before the third baseman does. Going to her left it's the same way with the second baseman. She occasionally plays center field and routinely makes plays ranging from mid-left to mid-right field.

The traveling teams often play three games in one day, so her endurance is very high. During these days she eats a fairly hearty breakfast, a light lunch and a high calorie dinner to get her the calories she needs. I've calculated the approximate calories she burns on tournament days - it averages over 3,000.

She is NOT fat, nor is she too skinny. Muscles cover every part of her body, but her muscles are like women's muscles, sheathed with a "tiny" layer of fat. She has no "six-pack" and doesn't want one.

Like me, my son is short. But his upper body strength is enormous with a 45" chest and biceps of 19.5 inches.

We counter any negative feedback by showing logical reasons why she is not fat - compared to some of her girl friends. Is she stronger? Yes. Can she run faster and longer in the PT tests? Yes. Last year in the half mile run she was beaten by only one person. The BMOC, who himself is a "jock", and they both "lapped" about a third of the kids in her grade.

I think that the fact that her favorite vegetables are broccoli and cauliflower about sums up her life-style eating habits (those also happen to be grandpa's favorite vegetables!).

Oh yeah. At 12 she is 5'3" and weighs just 94 pounds. Her girlfriends can hardly believe she is a size "0". Report
From as long as i can remember my mother always packed me diet lunches (cottage cheese, bolied eggs, veggie sticks, apples). Never anything normal (like pb&j) much less fun (like chips). In junior high and high school she constantly told me i was "fat" and "obsese". I was 5'6" and 132 lbs, ran track, played on the school volleyball and basketball teams, and also took dance and ballet. Yet she constantly wanted to check my weight - refused to buy me clothes unless it was an acceptable size to her among other things. Now as an adult I am not only fat i am obese. It took me years of therapy to realize that my mother has weight issues (she is petite and average - but very slim when she was younger). She had a fabulous figure and I guess she wanted the same for me. She went about all wrong and now i am everything she said I was when I wasn't. I am finally accepting me and my choices and trying to make a change - AND stay away from her as much as possible. She can still be very negative and rude and downright mean sometimes - but I put her check. It is a rough road. If you have a child model healthy eating and activity - don't force it and definatley don't put your child down. Report
My mom didnt diet but she would call herself fat when she wasnt and I think I inherited that gene. I always think 5 more lbs, one size smaller and I would be perfect. My sister was and still is overweight though we have always ate healthy. We were a clean our plate family and I do the same with my kids. Our plates were never overloaded as children and I give both my kids age appropriate portions and they are to eat all of it or most of it to be excused from the table. My cousin's mom was always very critical of her. I think many times she didnt even feed her cuz she was always starving when she came to visit us. (my uncle and her mom were divorced). I think it damaged her for a long time. Finally she realized that she could be beautiful and not have to starve herself. Our parents or the biggest influence in our lives. I hope I am doing a good job for my kids. Report
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