Mothers-Your relationship with food, may be weighing your daughter down!
by: Donna Cill (mother daughter connect)
Beep! Beep! The blaring noise of my cell phone tells me that it’s already 5:45am. It can’t be! It feels like only ten minutes ago I listened to my 9 year-old, Kennedy, read a 20 minute passage from her book, straightened the kitchen, spoke to my 22 year-old daughter Alleea, about her graduate school woes and the copious amount of writing assignments that plague her day. Now, as I silence my cell phone alarm, I am staring at my ceiling negotiating if I could somehow get 30 additional minutes of sleep or should I just get up, “bite the bullet” and go on my usual 30 minute run.
We all have dilemmas that make us want to skip our commitment to exercise. We are all confronted with the stress of work, spouses, friends and pets that make that frosted donut, or red velvet cupcake so deliciously appealing! How do we maintain a sense of discipline in our day to day chaos? How do we create an environment that educates and encourages our daughter to create a healthy relationship with food, stress and day to day life?
Cutting and colleagues published a journal article titled “Like Mother, Like Daughter: Familial Patterns of Overweight Are Mediated by Mothers Dietary Disinhibition.” One of the goals of the study was to examine if mothers’ influence their daughters eating and weight outcomes. This study along with three other studies conducted within a 15 year timeframe, have shown that not only do mothers influence their daughters eating and weight outcome; but they also influence their daughters environmental cues that trigger eating and how much to eat!
The eye opening moment
Yikes!! The myriad of research at hand continue to illuminate how widespread our use of food really is. We no longer utilize food only as an energy requirement but also as a median to deal with stress, provide comfort to our lives, or simply to give us something to do when we’re watching TV. With that in mind I have one question that is the most critical question of this article. As a mom, what is your relationship with food? Our daughter’s relationship with food will most likely mirror our relationship with food.
A mother daughter bonding activity
Recently I had the opportunity to plan a “Staying Fit” module in alliance with my 9 year- old Kennedy, and her Girl Scout friend who was also accompanied by her mother. This module, in which I participate every year, always gives me a different perspective on food and young girls. We had many activities for the girls to do during the one hour presentation lead by Kennedy and her fellow girl scouter. Each girl read labels, identifying four items on each label, such as serving size, calories, sodium and vitamin content. We extended these activities to be done in groups, reinforcing the sisterhood and bonding opportunity the day offered. By the end of it all, it was really impressive and touching to hear all these young girls happily recite the pledge against being a couch potato and citing specific ways each will engage in at least thirty minutes of exercise 3-4 times a week. I must say, however, that throughout the module, the activity I enjoyed the most was pledging together with Kennedy to utilize the food pyramid as a planning guide. We pledged to watch out for each other and encourage one another to eat servings of fruits and vegetables to stay happy and healthy. Seeing her having fun, while assisting her to build a healthy relationship with food, was worth every minute.
Since then, Kennedy and I have been referring to our color copy of the Food Pyramid from the United States Department of Agriculture. We have been identifying what we eat, what category it falls into (grains, fruits, etc), and if we are getting the adequate number of servings per day. During the first week I could see Kennedy’s increased fruit intake and my increased vegetable intake. Most importantly, we have so much fun, looking at the Food Pyramid and plotting our intake together. This activity has added a food-conscious element to our relationship and also has created a healthy habit in my nine year old.
Here are Six Tips to enhance your relationship with food
- Set a Goal: Health habits begin with creating a vision for ourselves. Create short and a long term goals to healthy living.
- Make healthy choices: Our choices will be our daughters choices in the future.
- Buy Healthy Snacks: Building health habits start by creating healthy choices.
- Download a Food Pyramid : Print it out and post it on your refrigerator. It’s a great easy reminder on how to stay on track.
- Manage Stress: Healthy living is not only about food, but more about how we deal with the stimuli around us.
- Plan a Bonding Activity with your daughter: Shopping for groceries together, cooking together or having a conversation about food raises your daughter’s consciousness about her relationship with food.
Your commitment to living a healthy life will begin with your daughter, but will benefit generations to come.
Cutting,T.M, Fisher, F.O, Grimm-Thomas, K., & Birch, L.L. (1999).Like mother, like daughter: familial patterns of overweight are mediated by mothers’ dietary disinhibition, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 608, 13.