The hashtag “Almond Mom” has gone viral on TikTok, thanks in part to the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills alum Yolanda Hadid.
U collection of videos showing old clips from “RHOBH,” Yolanda is shown in 2014 on the phone with her teenage daughter Gigi.
“I feel very weak. “I had, like, half an almond,” a wobbly Gigi tells her mother.
Yolanda’s answer? “Take a couple of almonds and chew them well.”
And that’s how the term “almond mom” was born.
Earlier this month, Yolanda defended her controversial comment in interview with People, explaining that she was recovering from surgery and “half asleep” when Gigi called. She also acknowledged her infamous tip, posting on TikTok where she snacks on almonds while doing various activities, including yoga. “#westmomever #almonds,” the caption read.
Yolanda was clearly making fun of herself. But Dr. Carla Lester, a pediatrician and childhood obesity expert, isn’t laughing. Lester noted that Yolanda was also filmed shaming Gigi for wanting to treat herself on her birthday.
“You can have one night to be bad, right,” – says Yolanda. “Then you need to get back on your diet. Because, you know, they like skinny girls in Paris and Milan.”
According to Lester, an almond mom is someone who is typically “stuck in diet culture” and probably grew up hearing phrases like “a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips” and “you’re not hungry, you’re bored.”
“The almond mom phenomenon is rooted in fat phobia and internalized bias,” Lester said. TODAY Parents. “She projects her own fears onto her children and in doing so teaches them that she doesn’t accept them unless they’re at a weight that may be out of reach.”
Expert on education and development of youth Dr. Deborah Gilboa agree with Lester’s assessment.
“There’s this belief that our body shape is a reflection of our character, our willpower and our motivation to be healthy,” Gilboa told TODAY. “Many parents take this idea a step further and believe that their children’s body shape is a referendum on their parenting.”
“None of this is true,” she added.
In recent weeks, TikTokers have talked about their almond moms. One woman revealed that when she was growing up, her mother prohibited her from consuming white carbohydrates another woman shared the footage her “two-almond-a-day mom” savoring a peach at a restaurant.
“I’m over 50. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know the value of different foods when it came to calories,” began the TikTok user, who goes by the name Kim from North Carolina. “As a kid I was like, ‘Hey, what’s for dessert?’ And my mother used to say: “There’s fruit in the fridge.” And she would say something like, “Are you sure you want to eat this?”
“I knew from a very young age that her motivation came from wanting to protect me,” she tells viewers.
At the same time, Kim said she was determined to “break the cycle” with her son. She keeps treats in the house and food is off-limits because “when we know better, we do better.”
Gilboa said there are “a lot of great lessons” to be learned from the almond mom.
“So many wonderful parents struggle to help their children live in healthy bodies without poisoning their minds with food,” Gilboa told TODAY. “It’s a balancing act that a lot of people find themselves on.”
Gilboa said the first step is to end the moral value of products by labeling them as “good” or “bad.” Instead, talk about food as fuel.
“As a parent, you want to help your child understand their body as one of the coolest and most interesting tools they have to navigate the world,” she explained. “It allows them to do things they enjoy, like dancing and running. And for it to work at its best, it needs a balance of different fuels, including fruits and vegetables.”
Gilboa said if you notice your child gaining weight, check the inventory in your cupboards, as children age 12 and younger choose most of their food at home. And whatever you do, don’t mention weight or body shape, she said.
Gilboa highlighted “five things that have been proven to improve overall fitness and nutrition in children”:
- Breakfast every morning.
- Eat out no more than once a week.
- Move 60 minutes a day.
- No more than two hours of screen time per day.
- And no more than 6 ounces of sugary drinks a day.
“These five interventions make a huge difference,” she continued. “And if you can get them up to 12 years old, then not only are you building patterns, but you’re basically controlling what they’re eating.”
Dealing with a teenager, Gilboa said not to tell them what you think.
“Take every ounce of judgment out of your voice and say, ‘So, every year your body changes a lot.’ What do you think about your body right now? How is your body treating you?” she said. “You want to talk about their body in the third person because therapists have found that it helps reduce shame and increase objectivity.”
Lester emphasized the importance of promoting positive body image and family meals.
“There is evidence that these things help raise children who can avoid developing eating disorders or unhealthy weight gain,” she said.
“When you shame, when you condemn, that’s when problems arise.”
This story first appeared on TODAY.com. More from TODAY: