Let’s try something together.
Think about your mother’s relationship with food, her body, her weight, and her body image.
Now think about your own.
Notice any similarities?
Mothers and daughters often have some similar patterns regarding food, eating, weight, and body image.
Your choices as a mother will always influence your daughter’s choices, just like your mother’s influenced yours. Including your food choices.
If these patterns have been tough for you, it can bring a whole new dimension to the mother-daughter relationship.
Having to constantly struggle with food choices can add to the stresses of everyday life. Those stresses can also drive a wedge into what should be a beautiful and healthy rhythm of living with your children. You deserve better.
If there were actionable steps you could take to strengthen the mother-daughter relationship, wouldn’t you take them? That’s what I hope to give you with this article.
Here’s where you can begin.
Make a Plan to Make a Plan
The first step for using the mother-daughter relationship to strengthen not only each of you but the bond between you is to consider a contract.
What do I mean by this?
Creating a written agreement or contract outlining some basic expectations, boundaries, and language is a great way to join forces when setting goals for improved health.
When you take the time to define a common language, it can make a big difference in how you navigate conversations that come up between the two of you, as well as with family and friends.
Design Your Food and Body Talk Contract
Here are some components to consider for a mother-daughter contract based on mutual respect and shared goals:
-Agree to reject the diet mentality and the “Thin Ideal” for good.
-Decide to keep fashion magazines and social media feeds that support the “thin ideal” and diet mentality out of the house and off phones and computers as much as possible.
-Agree to educate yourself and each other on the physiological and psychological effects of dieting. This helps solidify your (accurate) belief that diets don’t work.
-Learn to trust your, and each other’s, inner food compass. Next, ask questions like: Are you hungry? What are you hungry for? … Something hot? Cold? Soft? Hard? Salty? Sweet? A snack? Or a meal?
-Learn and agree to neutralize foods. Educate each other on the different nutritional information about foods without placing labels or judgment on them (such as “good” or “bad,” “right” or “wrong,” “healthy” or “unhealthy.”)
-Agree to notice, listen and ask “What does my body need?” Encourage each other to tune into your own body’s physical and emotional wants and needs. Give yourself permission to eat or not to eat, and to notice what the body needs …
-Work to serve a variety of foods to each other and to yourself. This offers independence of choice, develops autonomy, and helps ensure the body is getting the nutrients it needs.
-Plan to “tune in” to how you talk to yourself (and others) when you’re around family. It’s just as devastating or triggering to a mother to hear her child say she “feels fat” or “I’m so fat.”
-Decide to speak up if someone “fat talks” about themselves. Help change the conversation to something positive about them or say something like, “Don’t talk about my friend like that.”
-Notice how you talk to yourself or act when you’re with other members of your family or friends. Your words and actions can easily be misinterpreted by others.
-Agree to seek to understand when you hear others talking about someone else’s weight, size, or body shape. Then, strive to make the point that we never really know what is going on in someone else’s life that might have an effect on either weight loss or gain and that we shouldn’t make assumptions. (Some things which we know can impact weight and size include medications, sicknesses, stress, emotional trauma, and disordered eating.)
-Agree to disconnect exercise from weight loss, burning calories, or altering body shape or size. Learn to appreciate your body for what it can do TODAY!
-Educate yourself about weight bias, weight diversity, and weight inclusivity. It’s similar to biases about race, religion, or cultural differences.
-Agree to adopt the philosophy and mindset that all bodies are special, unique, and worthy, no matter what size or shape they are.
-Strive to model self-compassion and self-kindness towards yourself. Remember, this includes your self-talk, body image, behaviors, and actions.
-Take action steps to work on healing your own relationship with food, mind, and body.
Join Forces to Support Each Other
With clarity around language and defined expectations, it becomes easier to join together to improve your own relationship with food, weight, body image, and each other.
We don’t need to go through life alone. With a mother or daughter to support you, all your goals become more achievable!