No Wellness Wankery

10. How NOT to pass an unhealthy food relationship to your kids.

June 07, 2022 Lyndi Cohen
No Wellness Wankery
10. How NOT to pass an unhealthy food relationship to your kids.
Show Notes Transcript

Chances are you were raised by parents who had never heard of the phrase ‘healthy relationship with food’.  

If this doesn't apply to you - what a win! But this definitely applies for Lyndi, Jenna and our listener of the week, Gabi, who sent this question across.

While your parents may have said or done things accidentally that impacted your relationship with food (making it harder to enjoy food without guilt, stop eating when you feel full and love your body), you can help raise your children to have a healthy relationship with food.

There are a few things to keep in mind if you want your child to learn how to eat intuitively, live healthily and love their body.

P.s. Are you a binge or emotional eater? If you feel out of control around food, or can’t stop eating once you start, PLEASE take my quiz to find out if you display signs of binge or emotional eating. I’ll promise to hand over helpful guidance to help you create a normal relationship with food.

Looking for more support to feel in control around food? I'd love to support you in my Binge Free Academy

If you don't already - come follow me on the gram at @nude_nutritionist (no nude pics, sorry).

Want to share some feedback or have an idea for an episode, I'd LOVE to hear from you - hit me up at

 Hi guys, and welcome to the new Wellness Wankery podcast. I'm Lyndi. And I'm Jenna. And we love these episodes we put out every week where we get to answer your questions. As always, if you have a question, nude underscore nutritionist, head to Lyndi's Instagram page and send us a DM voice note because we want to get answering and we are very loving this week's question. 

It is from Gabby. 

Hey Lyndi, I'm interested in how to heal your food relationship when you were overweight as a child and have some very deep associations with food. In relation to this I'd also like to know how to support your children to have a good relationship with food when you weren't raised to have one. Thank you so much for all of the amazing work that you're doing. Oh Gabby, I love this question. I love it twofold. One, because I can completely relate to both the things that you're talking about. Being a chubby kid growing up or at least being told I was a chubby kid, that was a real problem for me and I feel like being put on a diet really young definitely set me up to have an eating disorder. health conditions. We know this is backed up by research and it's not a great thing to be doing. And also if you get bullied as a kid. I was called Mrs. Trunchbull. That was my name, Ms. Trunchbull, because I won discus and javelin one year and then the name stuck with me for a very long time. Kids are mean. Kids are mean, especially, yeah, kids And one of the problems is when you grow up as an overweight kid or a kid who's chubby or whatever, people love to give you diet advice. They're very okay with giving someone who's perceived as being overweight diet advice that they would never give to someone who was underweight. And it's more socially acceptable, sadly, to have disordered eating than it is to exist in a larger body, which is just completely messed up. But I think one thing that really helps me when I think about this topic is having a bit of empathy for the generation above us. So maybe it was your parents, your mom, a grandmother, an auntie, an uncle who made mean comments about your body and I think that generation, the one above us, they were very much victims of diet culture at its hardest. They had a Jane Fonda generation, the calorie obsessed generation, the generation who's gone through multiple, multiple, multiple diets at this point and you know what we've been doing? We've been handing down eating disorders like an heirloom from previous generations, like a nasty old tea set that no one actually wants and all we've been doing as kind of parents is we're just teaching our kids how we things and the stigma and discrimination that happens when you exist in a large body. So I think one thing that what I'm saying is having a bit of empathy for the people around you who had really good intentions of trying to help you with your weight and the things that they would say and do and that is very much related to their relationship with their food and with their weight. And I think having empathy really helped me not be as angry, and I think that's useful. I found that I still have a thing, a little hang-up in my head of like, because I was like a chubby kid, then I always still feel like I'm like the biggest one in the room. That's something that I always hang over. Like even the thought of like, when someone says, oh, can I borrow your clothes? I'm like, oh, it won't fit you. And maybe it probably will.

 Like that's my default response.

 Yeah, or like do you remember when you were young and someone was like, do you want to piggyback? I was like, no, I can't go on you.

 No, I can't go.

 Or like a boyfriend would try to pick you up and I'm like, you can't pick me up, don't pick me up. I don't want you to pick me up. Anyway, things you might be able to relate to.

 Keep me on a block, no.

 Yeah, and so the question is how do we retrain ourselves and develop a healthy relationship with food? Now, one of the key things is if you have people in your life, in your family, who still make comments around how much you eat, what you eat, what you weigh, it's really important to try and get those to stop and it's not easy. It requires multiple conversations and hard conversations. It might look a bit like this. They go, should you really be eating that? I thought you were trying to be good. And you go, I know you think you're helping me when you make comments about what I eat and what I weigh, but it actually makes healthy living so much harder for me and I need you to please stop. So from this point onwards, please never comment on my food or my weight. It's not a topic we can talk about. They might go, Ooh, but I was just trying to help. It's such a hard conversation. Oh, you're so sensitive. Yeah. You go, okay, sure. But I'm asking you, please don't do it. Like, okay, fine. And then like next time you see them, they make those comments again. That's when you need to remind them Hey, remember last time we chatted I asked you not to make comments about my food about my weight I need you to please respect that. Oh my god, you're so sensitive Yes, they do all these things and you just need to go. No you hold your boundary firm Because when you constantly have someone in your life who's commenting on what you eat and then you feeling judged by them It is very difficult to be an intuitive eater because you're constantly going, well I'm only allowed to take a small portion of food because otherwise everyone's going to judge me. This is it, this is the problem and then you become transfixed and all you're thinking about is the food. Exactly, let's avoid that please. So that's a key thing. A key thing is to creating a healthy relationship with food is feeling like you have a judgmental free environment in which to do that and sometimes it can be our partners and sometimes it's our parents who we've even recruited in the past to be food police for us.

 We've been like, I'm trying to get healthy, can you please help me by making sure I go to the gym or that I don't have desserts after dinner, whatever it is.

 And so they've kind of adopted this persona as I'm someone who helps you. You've previously once helped me. So we kind of need to like dethrone them from this position of food police and turn them

 Tonight when I'm going to want to eat more of this, stop me. And then actually, the act of stopping someone from eating is not something anyone should

 be doing.

 No one should be doing that at all. That is just not a thing. So you need to kind of abolish that from your life. And I find one of the problems is that diet chat is very much a point of connection. They've done some really interesting research about mums and daughters and the way that they often connect over food. People would go to Weight Watchers together as like a family unit.

 I went to Weight Watchers with my nan and my mum. Yes.

 The three of us went to Weight Watchers together.

 It was a thing you did.

 It was an activity. It was a family, a wholesome family activity. A wholesome family activity where we all got off the scales in front of each other and wrote in a little book. And then someone cried. Very wholesome. And me too, my mom and I would like drive in the car on the way to like an extracurricular activity and we'd talk about diet advice because it didn't matter what else we couldn't connect on. We always had a shared mutual interest of weight loss and I think that's one of the challenges as well with you know our family dynamics is trying to go what else can we connect with and giving something else for us to connect with our mums or our partners is useful. So that's the food chat kind of component. Now developing a healthy relationship with food, it's interesting because going on a diet is really easy to start but it gets harder and harder as you try and stick to it. Now intuitive eating and a healthy relationship with food is kind of the opposite. The hardest bit is starting and the more you practice it, the easier and the easier it gets. The more intuitive, the more relaxed, the less you have to think about it. So there is a degree of patience that has to happen, and the biggest barrier to creating a healthy relationship with food is those feelings when you feel really uncomfortable in your body, and there's that temptation to go on a diet. And you're gonna rationalize it to yourself, saying, oh, I really shouldn't go on a diet, that's bad for me, I know it's gonna mess me up, it's gonna lead to out of control eating and all that stuff, but we still get sucked into it. So Jenna, when you get that temptation to go on another diet, is there anything that you've found that works for you? I think something that works for me is you have to be just really firm with yourself and basically not mantras, but just saying out loud, I find that works for yourself. You don't need to lose weight. You'll find the way you are. You don't need to lose weight. Because there's so much of my logical and my rational brain that knows that I don't but you need to kind of like speak up against the part of your brain that's like go on a diet, go on a diet. Yeah. And it's especially I'm finding if I have an event coming up, someone's wedding and I have a burning desire every time that if there's something big in my life that I have to therefore lose weight for that event. So you have to actively come in at this event.

 Correct. My weight at this event is the lowest priority of anyone attending, myself included, and it doesn't matter if I don't have clothes that fit me, hire something, borrow something. Borrowing clothes can make you feel so much better.

 So much better. We just talked about in another episode how going up a size helped you reach that feeling of wanting to go on a diet because you didn't have poor body image knocking at your door every morning.

 Yeah, so I think just actively reminding myself.

 And so it's like it's a reminder of I'm not willing to sacrifice my health to weigh less.


 And what's very interesting I found useful, I know there's a bit of a weight-based focus, but I had to remind myself that dieting led to weight gain. I had to remind myself how I had dieted for 10 years and it had gotten me to the point where I couldn't stop eating, was crazy around food, and was 20 kilograms heavier. I was like, okay, dieting did this. It wasn't me.


 Also, when you think, if this worked, I would have been at my goal weight by now. It's the same thing. It's like, don't keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result. It's not going to be any different this time. I remember when I was younger, I used to go to festivals and go on these crash diets before I got there. Everyone there would be like, oh my God, you look amazing. I would put that weight straight back on.

 Plus more.

 Plus more. It's like none of these quick fixes are ever going to get me to where I really want to be. That's just to be able to be free and easy around food. Totally. And you really deserve that. I mean, how many years now have you been doing this whole dieting thing? Decades? Have you been doing it for over a decade or you've been like trying to follow the diet advice that you were ditched out as a kid? And where has it gotten you? Nowhere. I think one of the key things about developing a healthier relationship with food is about why we do things. So the one focus that diet culture teaches us is that it's all about being thinner, it's about weight loss. Ultimately everything is about weight loss and they want to wrap it up in a package of health but it's not, it's just about losing weight. So the question to ask yourself is, if this didn't help me lose weight, would I still do this healthy habit? So for example, would you go to the gym you're going to? If it had no Do you like it that much or are you simply doing it because you want to lose weight? You kind of need to go through each of your habits and ask yourself, why am I actually doing this? What is the purpose of this? And that way what we start doing is doing healthy habits that would feel good and truly enjoyable to us that are so much easier to stick to and we're not just doing things to lose weight. And in the same breath, please stop weighing yourself. I hate the scales. I hate the scales. I hate how I went through a phase where I was like, oh I'm gonna run to lose weight and then I ran for three weeks. I had fun. I did enjoy it and then I hopped on the scale and I gained a bit of weight. Do you think I did not keep running? Of course I did not keep running. I was like, this is awful. Why would I keep running if I'm gonna put on weight? That entire habit had been demolished and which is a really brilliant thing for me to be able to be doing, but because my goal was to lose weight and I didn't, there was no way I was going to stick to it.

 And it's like even if your goal is to lose weight, the scales isn't even an indicator of that, but we take it as. If you're doing a brand new form of exercise for three weeks that you haven't really done before, probably your body is going to build a little bit more muscle in areas that it hasn't used before because it hasn't needed it. Totally. And then you put on a little bit of weight and you're like, oh, this is a big fail.

 Oh, yeah, totally. It's probably all that happened. I built more muscle as I was exercising. So this is one of the fundamental flaws with weighing yourself as well as the fact that it makes you more inclined to under-eat or cut out foods or do these things that are completely unsustainable that make you feel more crazy around food.

 If your goal kind of has been since childhood, people telling you you're overweight, you need to lose weight, you're a chubby kid, you need to go on a diet.

 Oh, you'd be so pretty if you lost weight.

 Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

 These are like very entrenched habits. If someone's been told these things since they were a child and they're now in their 30s, 40s, 50s,

 like what is step one?

 Well, I mean, if you haven't yet started practicing intuitive eating, that's such a good place to start. So just in case for anyone who doesn't know what intuitive eating is, it's a very simple idea of tuning into your appetite system, which is your inbuilt weight management system, if you want to call it that. Its sole purpose is to help us eat the right amount of energy for how much we're using. And so if dieting tells you, eat this at this time, this much, intuitive eating is the opposite. It's like your body's going, hey, this is how much I feel like and when I feel like it. You might be really interested to find out, well, when am I actually hungry during the day? Some people get hungry frequently and some people like me, I don't get hungry that often. So you just got to try to figure out where is your appetite at and you're going to find some nice patterns in your appetite and cues. But the sole idea we want to try and do is wait until we feel hungry to eat instead of I think we do the same where we eat because it's a meal time or preemptively just waiting till that meal time and then trying to eat until you feel comfortably full. You're not always going to do this by the way like you don't need to aim for perfect in intuitive eating but that's a very beautiful place to start is learning how tells you how to eat the right amount of food for your body. Oh, in case you didn't know, Back to Basics is my app, and inside the app, you've got a hunger check-in little tool, which is very useful. So if you're learning how to eat intuitively, it's going to give you those little prompts to help you eat when you're hungry and finish eating when you feel satisfied. And when you start doing that over a few days, it's gonna start to give you insights, help you reveal some things and ways that you can maybe do things a bit differently or new strategies to try out, plus there's lots of mindset videos. If you're just starting on your journey to learning how to be an intuitive eater and create a healthy relationship with food, then check out Back to Basics. I created it because I was like, there is no place where people can be healthy and eat intuitively without getting shoved with diet advice from every corner.

 And once you start to rebuild this relationship with food, then I suppose you can kind of heal this thing you have about being an over-white child, all of this past.

 Well the second part of your question, Gabby, that I love is this idea of, well, how do you raise kids that are then going to like themselves, that are healthy but don't hate their bodies. It's a conundrum. One of the key things we can do is work on our relationship with food ourselves, because our kids are very sponge-like and they do witness everything that we say, do, feel. Noticing the little comments that you make around your body or someone else's body. So let's say you're watching someone walking past, resist the temptation to comment on anyone's body or the news presenter's makeup and how much makeup she's wearing or whether you like her clothes or not. Resist the temptation to say, I feel so fat right now, I wish I could just lose weight quickly. Resist the temptation to let them see you going on diets. And if you're going to practice intuitive eating in front of them, they might go, well, mommy's not having dinner with us, or daddy's not having dinner with us. You might go, well, mommy's not really hungry right now. I feel like I'm going to wait until I feel hungry and that's when I'm going to eat. And you can try and explain to them that hunger is their body's way of telling them when they need more energy. And you start to role model that around them. If they've got grandparents around them, maybe your parents who make little comments like, oh, you're so chubby or you've got such big thighs or whatever silly comments they make, what we kind of want to do is recruit the grandparent or any other person as an ally, ideally before they start making these comments and just explaining to them we want our child to grow up in a positive relationship with their body and food. So we have a zero tolerance policy for comments around body and food and that's the way it is.

 It's so good as you actually come in with such a firm boundary right from the start and people will be like, oh, okay. So many people probably wouldn't even have any clue what they're saying does have such an impact.

 Yeah, and I think there is also innocent things we say to kids like, oh, wow, you're really having a hungry day. Or, wow, do you really need another helping or you really already eat that much. The opposite thing can happen as well like when our kids don't eat that much. I don't know if you've noticed when you have kids, some days they eat loads and some days they don't really eat that much. We also need to be okay with the fact that due to their changing their growth spurts and how they grow, their appetite has a bit more fluctuations in it than adults. But unlike adults, they are very good at listening to their hunger. You can't force a toddler who doesn't want to eat to eat. They're not going to eat. They all go to bed without dinner. They don't really care. I find it very interesting to watch how intuitive they are with their food. So we're helping our kids to determine how much, you know, tell them respect how much they eat. And I think this is a whole topic in and of itself, but I think it's really an interesting idea is adults and parents decide when to eat and what kids eat, and children decide how much to eat. So you can go, it's dinner time, and here's what's for dinner, and your child can go, I don't want to eat anything, I want to eat all of it, I want to have seconds, and you are totally okay with that. I will say as a parent, though, if you go to all the effort to make a delicious meal and they're like, no, the freezer is my friend, personally, and I tend to serve smaller portion sizes and I always just add in more whenever he's ready. It's also great for trialing new foods as well, by the way, because they don't get as intimidated and less food waste, which I'm all about. Less time waste.

 Less everything waste. We're loving your questions being sent through. Now, as always, if you're loving the podcast, we'd love you to jump on to wherever you listen to your podcast. Give us a rate. Give us a review.

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 And remember, if you have a question, please send it through to Lindy on Instagram. That's nude underscore nutritionist.

 Send me a DM with a voice message. Say hi and ask us your question. We'd love to answer it. Thanks for listening, guys. Do you feel like you know what you should be eating but you feel completely out of control with food? You're either eating perfectly or you're face planting into the fridge. Well if you've got binge eating or you're struggling with emotional eating, I can help. Check out my program, Keep It Real. I've got lots I can teach you and hey, you don't have to be a binge eater for the rest of your life. You can get 20% off Keep It Real when you use the code PODCAST when you check out via the website. And because I don't want this to be just another failed attempt for you, I'm offering a 30-day money-back guarantee because you know what, you've just got to you, I'm offering a 30-day money-back guarantee because you know what, you've just got to give these things a go, no risk, give it a try, check out KeeperReal.