Celebrating Mother’s Day during a Pandemic is very strange. There really is no other way to say it.

In most areas of the country, social distancing guidelines are still in place and keeping us from celebrating directly with our loved ones, including our moms. In this article, I want to explore ways in which our relationships with our caregivers – whether our biological mother, or other nurturing adult – can influence our relationships with food and with our bodies. I sure miss my mother in Florida and look forward to celebrating a belated Mother’s day!moms and their infouence on children

Fear of Weight Gain is a Hallmark of Diet Culture

Did you know that, in a study about body image and eating behaviors during COVID-19, of almost 900 young adults in the US, 40% of women and 46% of men agreed that it would be worse to gain 25 pounds during social distancing than to become infected with COVID-19? This study done by Missouri University’s Center for Body Image Research and Policy shows just how harmful diet culture is. To read more about diet culture, and the harm it causes, you can read this article on diet culture.
May I ask you? Seriously.
Do You Really think it would be better to get sick and die than to potentially gain 25 pounds??
Because while most cases of COVID-19 are considered relatively mild, we now know that for some bizarre reason, some people with virtually no underlying medical issues can become very, very ill. When people say they want to lose weight for “health,” it’s often really about wanting to lose weight because of the fear of the fat body, or fatphobia. I see this attitude and real fear of weight gain everywhere. I find it extraordinarily sad, but it just shows the world we live in.

On this Mother’s Day, I believe we must challenge this narrative if we are to help people recover from eating disorders and disordered eating. And help prevent eating disorders in the first place.

Mother’s Influence

Let’s reflect on the influences our moms have had on our food intake and behaviors, and how we, in turn, influence our children’s. How sad that, in our culture, a woman’s relationship with her body is primarily not a loving relationship, but rather a relationship that causes insecurity, fear, self-doubt, shame, guilt, low self-esteem, and all too often, self-hatred. Today we are moving into the anti-diet era – very slowly but it is happening. It is a movement – the Health at Every Size Movement and the Body Positive movement. In the U.S., at least 5-10 million girls and women and 1 million boys and men are struggling with eating disorders – anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorder (compulsive overeating). The odds of finding a person who doesn’t have at least some body image issues are slim. Ours is a nation that starves, diets, purges, binges, and exercises to the point of creating serious health problems, sometimes even causing death. And most of us are at least dissatisfied and, at worst, even hate some parts of our bodies. This is especially true for women, but men have body image issues, too. This is the time for our era to say enough is enough and make a change and a shift in our thinking and throw the diet culture and thoughts of the past out the window.

For many of us, we loath our bodies, we judge ourselves,

and the time is now for this thought process to end.

Here are ten simple ways to change your thinking and your actions to move towards acceptance of your body, and 5 special steps to help moms instill positive body image in your own children.

How to Turn the Self-Loathing into Self-Loving?

Like all good and lasting things – it won’t happen overnight. It begins with small, positive steps.

Here are 10 steps to to Turn the Self-Loathing into Self-Loving?

  1. Find at least one thing you like about your body. Write it down. Tomorrow, find another.
  2. Tell your body how much you appreciate its wondrous abilities.
  3. Get rid of all the clothes that you don’t like or that make you uncomfortable.
  4. Challenge the media’s definition of beauty.
  5. Nourish your body with a variety of balanced meals and snacks.
  6. Slow down and remember to breathe.
  7. Move your body; not just exercise, but play, dance, skip, stretch.
  8. Pamper yourself with comfortable clothes, soothing beauty rituals.
  9. Post signs telling yourself how beautiful you are, inside and out.
  10. Tell your friends how beautiful they are, inside and out.

And mothers – Here are five things YOU can do to instill a positive body image in your own children:

  1. Model acceptance of your own body by bashing negative body talk.
  2. Practice non-dieting, intuitive eating behavior of eating for hunger, fullness and satisfaction.
  3. Eliminate talk of “good” or “bad” foods.
  4. Stop commenting on other people’s size or shape and instead focus on their other qualities and attributes.
  5. Compliment your children for non-appearance skills, traits and values.

To all the Mothers out there… Happy Mother’s Day!!!

If you are looking for help with ditching diets and learning to make, feel free to reach out to me and book a free 15-minute call so we can talk about your most pressing issue with food and your body image, and I will offer the best ways to move forward and make the changes you need so you can peace with food and your body image.

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Erica Leon Nutrition & Associates is a group practice of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists specializing in Eating Disorders, Intuitive Eating, Sports Nutrition, Teen Nutrition, Family Feeding Concerns, and Weight Inclusive Medical Nutrition Therapy. We work virtually with our clients from our offices in Westchester County in New York as well as the tri-state areas of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, along with Florida, California, Wisconsin, Iowa, Texas, and Vermont.