CLEVELAND (WJW) – If you type #almondmoms into Tiktok, you’ll find a seemingly endless collection of women imitating their experience with moms, who, they say, introduced them to toxic diet habits.
“They’ve been told, whether directly or indirectly, that your needs don’t really matter. What’s more important is that your body stays a certain shape or size,” said registered dietitian Meghan O’Hara.
O’Hara, who founded True Nourishment and offers group support exclusively for women, says moms aren’t solely to blame. Instead, she tells Fox 8 News, responsibility also falls on our culture of thinness and dieting.
Research and Markets’ latest report shows the Global Weight Loss Products and Services market is on track to reach $377 Billion by 2026. O’Hara believes that industry contributes to generational trauma surrounding food.
“Not that long ago, as women, we were dependent on men to get married and financially to survive in this world. So, there’s this really deep biological need to be chosen, to be beautiful, to be provided for; like this is inextricably linked,” said O’Hara.
“It’s not really any different than, like, the 80s low-fat Snackwells moms, or, you know, Jazzercise. Like, it’s a cultural thing that just moves and changes,” said Dr. Claudia Thompson.
Thompson, a health coach who says she’s tried every diet, now shares how she overcame food and body struggles with her clients and 234,000 Tiktok followers. She sees the #almondmoms posts as an opportunity to heal.
“If you’re following calories or macros, you put that down. You put that down, and you say, I’m going to hit pause on this, and I’m just going to try to start to listen to my body and eat according to that,” said Thompson.
After a three-decade fight with disordered eating, Thompson started a difficult process; deleting every diet app on her phone, stepping off the scale altogether, and treating hunger like the urge to use the restroom.
“So, we trust that signal, but we don’t trust this one because we’ve been taught not to trust it,” said Thompson. “But if we start to trust it, your metabolism, everything, it evens out over time because your body’s like, ‘Oh, I don’t have to worry about her starving me anymore. Like, she’s going to start to listen.'”
O’Hara says helping your child create a healthy relationship with food and their body has to do with you allowing them to decide based on the foods you offer.
“Giving her three or so foods at each meal, that she then has the choice whether or not she’ll eat it, and how much, and so, I don’t have to police, two more bites of your broccoli, and one more bite of your chicken and then I’ll give you another sweet potato fry,” said O’Hara. “It’s up to her; it’s on her plate. It’s literally taking all the battle and control out of the meal experience.”
For O’Hara, who gained weight around age nine and felt she needed to fix that often-typical growth spurt, the most important thing parents can do is model their own healthy habits.
“How I talk about my body and food becomes in her mind, how she sees the world, and how she sees her body and how she sees food,” said O’Hara. “So, I don’t talk about, like, ‘I deserve this food, or I didn’t do enough, so I can’t have this today.’ So, there’s no sort of morality or deserving or earning food, and there’s just neutrality around food.
If you need support, there is help. The National Eating Disorders Association helpline is 1-800-931-2237.