No Wellness Wankery

15: Does your mum criticise your body? Listen to this.

June 23, 2022
No Wellness Wankery
15: Does your mum criticise your body? Listen to this.
Show Notes Transcript

Lyndi has spoken to many women who tell a similar story and ask “how can I stop my mum commenting on or criticising my weight and body?” So it's time to tackle it on the podcast.

Because remember when people comment on your weight or body – or criticise how you look – it stays with you and affects your self-confidence and relationship with food. It does more harm than good.

The truth is that IF your mum is commenting on your weight or criticising your body and food choices – it says a lot more about her relationship with food than it does about your size.

But what can you do about it? Well listen to this episode, and if you still want some more info check out my blog post.

P.s. Have you tried a bajillion diets, only to regain the weight (and more)? It’s likely that diet culture is keeping you stuck in this vicious cycle, full of empty promises and failed attempts. If you want to build real health, check out my best-selling book Your Weight is Not the Problem. Get the deets and access to a free audio sample HERE.

Get my Free 5 Day Course to help you stop binge and emotional eating. 

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

 Hey guys and welcome to the No Wellness Wankery Podcast. I'm Lyndi Cohen and I'm joined by my co-host, Jenna D'Apice.


 Welcome back to the podcast. We are loving doing this and so glad you're here with us today.

 Thanks for listening. Today we're going to be talking about a biggie, what to do when your mom or another family member or friend or someone keeps commenting on your food, on your weight. It can be a really hard thing to deal with. So we're going to deep dive into it.

 It is so, so tricky. I know, I feel like I can speak out my family transparently because I say all these things to their face anyway. I feel like so many times it's such a hard thing to get over because whenever I would be like eating healthy or on a diet or something like that my

 parents were always like, keep it up or keep doing what you're doing and then it's so ingrained that okay I should be doing this, I should be doing this. Yeah like they're endorsing us for getting obsessed around food. Some of the comments we've heard from people like some followers have sent in, one person says when I see the details about her latest diet. How can I get her to stop? Someone else said, the last time I went to visit my parents, my mom berated me for having second helping of food. I was so embarrassed, I ended up crying, leaving early and going through a drive-thru on the way home. Oh, I can relate to that as well. And someone else said, my mother-in-law is always on a diet. She loves to talk to me about it, but I hate it.

 It kind of comes back to what you were saying before about how it's kind of a developed that diets are like a bonding thing and that is what women talk about. It's like, let's talk about what diet we're on.

 No, absolutely. There's something very interesting about the mother-daughter dynamic in bonding. And it's, we've talked about it before, like going to Weight Watchers together, sitting in the car, talking about diet stuff. It's always that safety net you can return to and a way of bonding together. But we want that to stop.

 But that needs to not be.

 So just quickly going through my story from the beginning, I was put on a diet when I was about 11 years old, even though categorically was within the healthy weight range for my BMI. But I wanted to be thin and my family probably wanted me to be thin because I think they know life can be easier if you're fitting within that beauty ideal, even though it's unattainable, it's a trap. So I'm trying to get it. And so I went off to this nutritionist and she gave me a meal plan. She promised me it wasn't a diet, it was absolutely a diet. And then I started to count calories and weigh out my food. And I would go to weigh-ins and get weighed. And if I lost weight, my family would tell me how proud they were of me for losing weight. And the problem with this, what ended up happening is I knew I was a good girl if I ate well and if I exercised, and if I ate anything, I deviated slightly off track, I was given the look and little comments would start to happen because they thought they were trying to help me by making those comments. And I think that's a very important thing to notice is I don't think our families are trying to be judgmental. There's two things that are happening. One, they think they're helping us, and the other thing is it's often a reflection of their relationship with their body and their food. When someone else is commenting and judging you, it is absolutely something to do with them and not to do with your body. We've got to think about our mom's generation, and I'm 32. My mom's generation, it's like the 60-year-old boomer generation. They were hit so hard by dieting. They're the Jane Fonda generation. They got calorie counting, they got the Atkins diet, the cabbage soup diet, the lemon detox diet, I mean I can go on. There was one diet my mom tried where you'd have like milk and bananas one day and then chicken and maybe broccoli on another day and then you just alternate with these really weird food patterns each and every day. So they got hit really really hard by all of this nonsense. So part of the thing that helps me when I hear these really crappy, insulting, hard to hear comments is I have a big dose of empathy. Like if I can kind of go, oh my goodness, you grew up being told that you are not thin or pretty or good enough and the people around you told there was no one else telling you that it was rubbish, it was ridiculous, that you didn't need to do it. There was no body positivity movement and so as a result you kind of just did what you thought you needed to do and now as a parent you're simply passing on the things that you've been taught and you think you're doing the right thing. It's not malicious, you are genuinely trying

 to help. And I also think, like I say, sometimes things to mum about maybe you don't have to do that, or that's not the way you always have to be. And mum's like, I don't know how to be any other way. And even just about intuitive eating and all those concepts, when I try to, like mum's been listening to the podcast and trying to get into that, and then she's like, but all I'm seeing that as is another diet, just like another set of rules to follow because she's never not followed rules.

 Yeah, we have a bit of an obsession with tracking and measuring, right? And it's how you know that you're actually progressing and intuitive eating isn't about tracking and it isn't about measuring. So if you're taking that old school diet mindset and you're simply applying it to intuitive eating, then the rule becomes, I'm only allowed to eat when I'm hungry and if I don't, then I'm bad and I've screwed up and that's not good for me.

 Yeah, but it's so hard to get out of that mindset.

 Yeah, and it's a slow rewiring process that we're lucky enough that we're young enough that we can start thinking in a different way. I think if you have been dieting for 40, 50, 60 years as many of my clients or your moms or dads even might be, I think it is a harder thing. That's not to say it's not doable. It absolutely is. I have many clients who are in their 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s even, who have learned to stop dieting because it is a thing. Do you really want to get to the end of your life and be like, I'm still worrying about how thin I am just before?

 Yeah, no. My nan was exactly like that. She was literally in the nursing home being like, I won't have a Tim Tam. I'm like, Nan, have the Tim Tam.

 No one cares. No one cares. Yeah, and my grandma, she spent her entire life trying to weigh less. And she ended up dying of mesothelioma, which is cancer caused by asbestos, lung cancer. And it's a really awful way to die. It's very painful. And, you know, cancer depletes your body and you end up getting really thin and she kind of turned to my mom as she was dying and joked, well, at least I'm thin now and you know It's it's heartbreaking and it's sad and the thing is, you know Do we really want that to be our silver lining in our life? Cuz no one's going to say these things to you. Anyway, we digress. Let's go back to this idea. Let's say you have someone in your life who's commenting on your weight, whether or not it's your mom, even your partner. Here's one of the things that ends up happening is we can often recruit these people in our lives to become our food police.

 This is exactly what happened to me and mom would always say, I think you're fine the way you are, but I know you want to lose weight, so I'm doing this for you. I want to make you happy."

 And so had you asked her to help you out at some point?

 Probably yeah and it just probably hurt just me being upset about my weight or me trying to go shopping and not liking any clothes and that whole cycle would make her think like I want to lose weight, help me lose weight.

 Yeah. Okay so this really does bring it back to our parents really do think they're trying to help us by doing these things, especially if we have at one point recruited them to help us. The issue is that we think it's going to be helpful, but having someone monitoring what you're eating and enforcing what you're eating takes away the idea that you have control over what you eat, and it makes it feel like what you eat is something that's a rule to follow, and if you deviate, it adds to the shame, which leads to secret eating. So I don't know what happened to you but for me I was very much reached a point where I had to hide empty wrappers of the food that I had eaten and as soon as everyone would leave the house that's when I'd eat all

 the food that I wasn't allowed to eat in front of other people. And so one of these issues is once we've recruited these people to help us be food police, our loved ones become the very thing that we feel most ashamed to eat in front of and Yeah, for sure. That definitely happened to me. I remember I was like 17 or 18 and I had my first babysitting job, so therefore I was the adult in the house. I was in their house and I'd never been in a house that had all this, quote unquote, bad food in the cupboard. I'm trying to babysit these kids and I just couldn't stop thinking about the food in the cupboards because I'd never been the adult in the room in control with all this food and my kids wouldn't care, kids aren't even in the room and it was a situation like I can't even

 control myself. Yeah I've definitely done that, I've been babysitting and binged in the pantry of the person. They didn't know, I think they didn't know.

 I always think that, I'm like, did they know what I did?

 Well this one time I was at university and I ate some of my roommate's food and she was like, you have to replace the food and it was like a tin of tomatoes it was a weird stuff and I didn't I was so ashamed it adds to the shame that you have around food so one of the key things is firstly let's have empathy and realize that our parents aren't being judgmental and hateful towards us they want the best for us then what we need to do is we need to explain to them hey I know I've recruited you in the past to try and help me eat healthily, but it's not working. It's actually making it so much harder for me to eat healthily. I really need you to stop making comments about my food, how much I eat, or what I weigh. And now this is a conversation you can have with a partner as well. If you have recruited a husband or a boyfriend or a girlfriend or someone else to help you

 eat less, this is the exact same conversation you'd be having with them. And I think it's a very tricky one to say because what would you say to do if, say you see people and they comment like, you've lost weight or something like that, what can you say back? Because it seems they think that's a really nice thing to say and it seems so snarky just to come back and be like, I actually don't want you to comment on that. When realistically, that's what you need to do because the next time you go, I always find if they don't say that I've lost weight, therefore I automatically think that I've put weight on.

 Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, this is why we shouldn't be commenting on other people's weight, but what do you do? Let's say it's a colleague who's like, oh, you've lost weight. I sometimes feel like, oh, have I? I don't really care about that. It's just kind of a way to kind of like...

 Yeah, that's a good one.

 Like, I don't really care. It's not a big deal. Yeah.

 Yeah. Like, give that compliment nowhere to land, as opposed to, thank you.

 Oh no I haven't.

 You know.

 Yeah, let's avoid those responses. Yeah, so one thing we can do is we can try and just ignore it, acknowledge it, but kind of like not give it anywhere to land. Another thing you can do is if you have someone who's close to you, particularly someone like your mom, you could say, when you comment on my weight, whether it's good or bad, I don't know, you think you're giving me a compliment, but next time I see you, if you don't comment, it's gonna make me feel like you're thinking I've gained weight. And just being very transparent about that's the way that you feel, I think that could be a handy, important conversation to have. I wanna just put it out there that I had to have all these conversations with my parents. And I was probably, this is, so I dieted for 10 years, got to 21, graduated as a nutritionist and I was like, what the hell? How am I going to recover from this disordered eating? How am I going to create a healthy relationship with food when I have people constantly commenting on how much I'm eating and trying to help me? So I had to have a conversation with them that went like, when you make comments on what I weigh or what I eat, I find it really hard. I really need you to stop. It makes healthy eating so much harder for me. They did not get it at all.

 No, it's a whole new concept.

 If I don't comment on what you eat, you're going to just keep eating and keep eating, or I'm really trying to help you. So I would say, I know you think you're trying to do the right thing, but I absolutely need you to stop. And they would be like in a huff or upset or angry or anything. I just let them feel that discomfort because the choice was choosing my health or choosing their temporary discomfort. I chose their temporary discomfort and then what happens I find is when you remind these people, family members to please stop commenting on my weight, they forget. They're in such an old-school pattern of doing it. The next time you sit down together, they say the same things again. Once again, they think they're helping chat about the fact that I don't want you to comment on my food or my weight? I'd really appreciate it if you did it. Is that cool? And use your own words, ways that it's going to make you feel comfortable for you. But I've found, unfortunately, you need to repeat this message multiple, multiple times. I had to do it over many years because it was so ingrained in the culture of my family until it reached a point where it was just not something we actually were allowed to talk about. And they would make passing comments about the fact that they thought it was very unfair that they weren't allowed to comment on my weight or my body or my food anymore, but I made it very clear that that was my thing to be in control of. And during the time when I stopped dieting, I did end up gaining a little bit more weight as I started learning about intuitive eating. And my parents later told me how hard that had been on them to not actually comment, but them not commenting on my body at that time very much allowed me to get to the point where I am now where I feel free and relaxed around food.

 Because when you're starting to eat more intuitively and get into that, you probably, your weight is going to fluctuate and change and it's a very tricky point not to say, I want to go on a diet. Yes.

 And we've got to try and make sure we don't fall into the old pattern of talking to them about it again because it is that home base, that place where you can kind of find connection, particularly if you get to a point where you do start losing weight and you know that's going to excite them to talk about it. You've got to resist the temptation to fall back into those old patterns because then you reopen that dialogue. Even though sometimes you might be willing to talk about it and other times you won't, you don't get to have that luxury. So you need to kind of make a blanket statement about, we don't talk about these things.

 So I think overarching, it's mainly when you've been dieting your whole life, so much of your brain space is taken up thinking about that. When you're trying to be more free, you're trying just to take back your own brain space. Whenever anyone brings it up, then it's like, oh, it's back in my head, it's back in my head, and it's so hard. It's a full-time job to keep it out.

 And when it's parents, it's reaffirming the idea that this is a condition that you need in order to be loved, accepted, to have people feel proud of you. So it's big stuff that we're talking about.



 So what else can we do?

 Well, I think if you are a parent and you're listening to this, maybe your parents commented on your body. And I think one of the key things that we've been doing is we have been handing down shitty relationships with bodies and food and disordered eating from generation to generation, particularly amongst women. So you can decide that you're not going to pass on that stuff to your kids, especially your daughters. And if you notice that your daughter has a quote-unquote weight problem, I encourage you not to comment on her weight. And think about the culture that you've already raised your child in. Perhaps there already is quite a high focus on being thin, about how you look, and perhaps those very things have created a bit of a pathway for her to think that she needs to try and control her food and for whatever reason it's not going the way you want it to do. I know for me, the more comments, the more focus there was around what I weighed, the harder it was for me to stick to the diets and the plans and the more I felt out of control around food.

 Yeah, then you get into that real, I know I got into that real pattern of really dieting during the week and then going crazy every weekend and then thinking. And I know even my parents used to say, if you just stop doing this on the weekends then you can lose weight. I know Weight Watchers had that say to going into maintenance phase and she was like if you just be stricter then you can get into maintenance and you can do all these fun things again and it's like we need to not be doing that. Oh I mean that's a whole different thing this idea of I'll lose weight and then I'll be able to go out with my friends and then I can do all these things. Which by the way it doesn't really work that way. No it doesn't. On multiple occasions I was offered money to lose

 weight or a whole new wardrobe. So I was

 like saying to a 16 year old, if you lose 15 kilograms I will buy you an entire new wardrobe and you get this many thousands of dollars. Oh my gosh, are we the same person? My brother for like a walk, I don't even know how old I was, then like at the end of it, he bought me like these sunnies that I wanted. How did you get recruited into being part of this gang?

 I don't know, because he's all, because my brothers are older than me,

 so they're both like 10 years older than me and they were all in the crew with them. They were all being recruited.

 My brothers would tell my parents whether or not they thought I'd gained weight or lost weight or if they saw me eating something I shouldn't be eating. And it became a family sport, watching my weight fluctuate. And so, you know when my mom would like to make spaghetti bolognese, the rest of the family would get spaghetti and I would get carrot noodles. And that's before carrot noodles were a thing. This was before they were trendy and I was like a 12 year old it's so messed up so anyway if this is happening for you I'm sorry and I the sad thing is the reason this is an entire podcast episode is this is common this is happening very common it is a very shared experience that you and I can have almost identical experiences with it and I'm really sad about that because I genuinely believe getting comments about your food and weight is making it so much harder. We're almost creating food issues. We're creating weight problems because of all this emphasis around what we weigh. I know before I got into all this diet stuff, I wasn't like skinny kid. I was never going to be a skinny kid but I was like normal and moved my body and ate when I was hungry and it was very easy and then all of this focus on what I was eating and pressure to lose weight to become skinnier actually led me to gain so much weight and Hate myself and all the fun stuff that happens So let's avoid that anyway, if you are a parent one thing we can do is we absolutely want to lead by example So maybe you're listening to this podcast. You're like, I do not have a great relationship with my food or body yet Keep working on it. That's like the number one thing you can start to do. Don't comment on what you ate or that you need to lose weight or the naughty foods that you're trying to avoid. Kids are sponge-like and they are absolutely listening. And try not to comment on anyone else's weight for the matter, whether or not it's your child's or the newsreader or whatever it is. Just try and pull back on that as much as you possibly can.

 And I always, now that I'm older, I feel like going back to having empathy for my mum. Now my brother has three little girls and I can see mum going to do things, and now I'm older and I've come out of this a little bit, I'll tell mum, maybe don't do that. Because I know my mum didn't want to do the wrong thing by me, and definitely doesn't want to do it by her granddaughters now, just steering, oh you mean you try to help her like say the right things? Say the right things. I remember even once like they were getting some ice creams because the kids were coming over and like my mum's instant reaction is to get like skinny cow or diet ice creams. I'm like, maybe just get the kids normal ice creams because they probably don't need diet ice creams. And as soon as I say, mum's like, of course, like that's a really good idea. Why wouldn't I think of that?

 And sometimes people just want a little bit of help. Yeah absolutely. So sometimes perhaps as this generation, as our generation, we almost need to help lead by example for our own parents to kind of help show them how it can be done because as you said they don't know, they don't think about these things and then we need to kind of help them. Maybe we can help them break the cycle of dieting that they've been stuck in for 60 years. It can be done. It can be done. I know I really wanted to do this diet thing and I did it. I'm like, yes, mom. And so that's our new form of connection now. That's like a new thing. And my mom tries really hard. I mean, she dieted for so many years. It's still hard wide into her brain, but she's trying so hard to just, you know, eat and feel relaxed and even she's hungry and do all these cool things. And she's really getting there.


 Yay. Okay, cool. So I just have one more thing I want to add, and that is that if you have kids, if you're like our age, you have kids, or you're going to have kids, and you've got a parent, a mom, in your life who does make these comments, you want to try to protect your kids from receiving same comments. One idea you could do is you recruit them as allies before they start making comments, okay? So you go, hey, we've got this idea that we really want our kids to have a really healthy relationship with food. We think you can be really helpful in this. This is the way that we want to talk to our kids around food. So we don't want to talk about calories. We don't want to talk about things being fattening. We want to talk about how food makes us feel, makes us feel strong. We don't want to talk about good or bad foods. Instead, we're going to talk about everyday versus sometimes foods or just foods that make us feel good. And we don't want anyone to ever talk about how fat someone is or their weight or judge other people's in their weight. Is this something you're happy to do with us? And hopefully you can try to recruit them before your kids get old enough that they can start understanding it. If you haven't, that's okay. You haven't missed the mark. You can still recruit them and be like, hey, we really like your help on this. I know for me this is a very important thing that I will be doing because I think you can kind of help buffer your children from those really real influences in your life. They're always going to watch TV. They're always going to see advertising and get exposed to that kind of stuff. But I just think how different my life would be if I wasn't an 11-year-old being put on a diet.

 The home is such a powerful thing. Even though people say, oh, advertising and all that impacts you, it does. But you can see those people that come from a strong family and not dieting, they don't

 absorb it as much. They absolutely don't. They have the buffer because their relationship with food is set by the family. And just quickly, I'm doing research for my next book at the moment and some of the stuff that's really just so fascinating is how when you've got two kids, they are the same weight, normal weight range in the BMI, and one gets put on a diet, that kid is 66% more likely to be overweight or obese as an adult. So what we're basically doing in putting kids on diets really early, we're not setting them up for a healthy relationship with food, we're setting them up for weight struggles as they get older. So even if you have a kid you're worried about, do not put them on a diet, do not talk about these things around food, it's not helpful. Mirror and lead by example by showing a healthy relationship with food and that's the way to do it my friends. Tick! But we do like to finish with something positive, someone doing something good in the world and Linda you found something new, beauty? Yes, so I don't know if you know this about me but I'm quite into beauty. I like beauty things, I like doing the things, I feel like it feels like self-care for me and I found this brand called Emma Lewisham and it's a small New Zealand brand. Well, it was a small New Zealand brand. I don't think they're small anymore. I found out about them from Net-a-Porter as one of like- That's big. Their beauty editors like top pick products and I've got this product called Skin Reset. It's pretty fab. Anyway, why I like them is firstly, they are really, they give a shit about the environment and the beauty industry contributes 120 billion units of waste every year. And I think they're really-

 120 billion?

 Yeah, that's it, you know? So they're really trying to have an impact on that. And they've even been endorsed by Dr. Jane Goodall for all the good work that they're doing. So when I received my product that I bought from them, that I'm really enjoying, by the way, you can purchase a refill. So you don't have to throw out your packaging each and every single time. And that already saves so much waste and it already comes, you can like opt in to be part of their Emolution Beauty Circle. So basically once I'm done with the product, I can send it back or I can purchase a refill and that way I'm not creating extra waste. What I really liked about it, it's like there's all these natural ingredients that I think is cool. They also have a lot of scientific evidence to back up what does work and I think that's always pretty brilliant when they do that. But what I found was really cool is that they have got a section on their website for if you're pregnant that you can be like, oh, these are the products that are still safe for me to use because it's crazy trying to work out what you're allowed to use when you're trying to conceive. So anyway, that's very cool. And I have all this hyperpigmentation from having a child. So there's just one more way that you sacrifice yourself when you have children. And I feel like it is helping. Anyway, I just think that's a really cool brand that's hit it internationally, and I love the packaging too.

 Yeah, I'm loving, packaging is such a big deal, and I'm loving seeing so many more brands adopt these type of strategies. Actually thinking about what are people gonna do with this plastic tub when they finish it. I've seen more on the shelves, brands actually saying, made from recycled plastic. It's like, yeah, we're doing all this recycling, start using it. Like, start using recycled plastic to make stuff. What are we recycling it for? The occasional children's play equipment and park bench?

 Yeah, exactly. We need to use it way more than that, right? I don't know if you saw in the news, they've discovered a new enzyme that can break down plastic. Oh, no, but that sounds good. It is cool. Anyway, there is good news happening in the world. That's why we want to share something good that's happening in the world to end the podcast episode. Thank you for tuning in today. And as always, we really do appreciate your reviews, any positive reviews you can leave us, it'd be really great. Always share this episode with your mom or with a daughter, someone that needs to hear it exactly. And if you do have any other questions for us, we always love hearing from you. So send me a DM on Instagram at nude underscore nutritionist. Send me a DM and leave a voice message, that'd be so great. We can answer it on the podcast.

 And we'll chat to you next time.

 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 give these things a go, no risk. You've just got to give these things a go, no risk. Give it a try.