An Unhealthy Relationship with Food: What Will Your Child Inherit?

We all have a relationship with food. Some may have a healthy one, while others may have an unhealthy relationship with food. For women, these relationships with food can be particularly challenging as popular culture emphasizes the importance of being thin and fit.

What’s even more challenging is that these relationships with food can be intergenerational. This means that the patterns of self-talk and behaviors that we learned from our parents can make their way into our own lives and then onto our children, perpetuating the cycle of unhealthy relationships with food. But there’s hope.

In this blog post, we’ll explore how to break the intergenerational cycle of unhealthy relationships with food

unhealthy relationship with food child grabbing strawberries

Breaking the Intergenerational Cycle of An Unhealthy Relationship with Food

Working to mend that relationship now and learning to heal on your own can prevent it.

Otherwise, your child (or future child) will pick up on your healthy or unhealthy relationship with food and internalize any of the following:

How you care for yourself

  • This could be something like constantly being” “too busy” for meals or always feeding your kids but never sitting down to eat yourself

How you cope with your emotions

  • Do you use food when you’re sad to make you feel better? Or restrict foods as punishment?

How you talk about your body (or other people’s bodies).

  • There are so many awesome things about you and everyone around you, and the least interesting is how we look!

If you have go-to food rules,

  • Like which foods are “good” or “bad” (carbs are a popular “bad” food – which is not true)

Any diet talk

  • Like calories, or that eating after 7 p.m. makes you gain weight (which I feel like I have to reiterate is not true).

What you are doing vs telling them to do

  • For example, you are not eating vegetables (the doing), but you’re telling them to eat vegetables.

What the environment is like during family meals

  • Is it stressful, chaotic, rushed, etc? Do you sit down to mindfully eat together?

By taking these points and looking within, do you do any of these? How can you work toward correcting it if you do?

Tips To Heal And Move Forward

my daughter has an unhealthy relationship with food

It starts with you! ⠀⠀⠀

  1. Name It to Tame It:
    The first step in breaking the intergenerational cycle of unhealthy relationships with food is to take a good look at your relationship with food and name the things that are contributing to its unhealthy nature. This can include patterns of negative self-talk, disordered eating habits, emotional eating, and more. By naming these things, you can begin to take steps to change them.
  2. Find Support:
    Breaking unhealthy relationships with food is not easy, but it is possible. One of the best ways to take on this challenge is to find support. This can come in many forms, including working with a therapist, joining a support group, or finding a friend who is also working on their relationship with food. Whatever form it takes, support can provide accountability, encouragement, and a safe space to work through challenging emotions.
  3. Focus on Self-Care:
    Self-care is a crucial element in breaking the intergenerational cycle of unhealthy relationships with food. When you prioritize self-care, you’re demonstrating to your children that taking care of yourself is important. This can include getting enough sleep, practicing mindfulness and meditation, taking breaks when needed, and finding ways to move your body that feel good rather than punishing. Read our blog on tips to improve self-confidence without weight loss for more details.
  4. Build a Better Relationship with Food:
    Another way to disrupt the cycle of unhealthy relationships with food is to build a better relationship with food. This can include learning to cook and bake, trying new foods, experimenting with ways of eating that feel good, and letting go of rigid rules and restrictions around food. By rebuilding your relationship with food, you’re showing your children that food is something to be enjoyed, not feared. Check our causes of emotional eating in part 1 and part 2.
  5. Teach Your Children:
    Finally, if you want to break the intergenerational cycle of unhealthy relationships with food, you need to teach your children. This can include talking openly about your own relationship with food, modeling healthy habits, encouraging your children to try new foods, and avoiding negative self-talk around them. By teaching your children a healthier way of relating to food, you’re giving them the tools they need to break the cycle of unhealthy patterns.

Our relationships with food are complex and deeply ingrained, but they don’t have to be intergenerational. With intentional effort and support, we can disrupt the cycle and build a healthier relationship with food for ourselves and for future generations.

By taking these five steps: naming the issues, finding support, focusing on self-care, building a better relationship with food, and teaching our children, we can break the intergenerational cycle of an unhealthy relationship with food and build a healthier relationship with food for ourselves and future generations.

Many of our clients reached out to lose weight in order to have the energy & vitality to keep up with their children. We actually have a lot of badass clients who are putting in WORK right now to give their children (or future children) a better future. It really is never too late!

Before working with us, our clients have tried every diet and spent years hating their bodies but recognized that part of their diet culture & weight loss journey was because of their mother’s or grandmother’s influence.

Our clients are more interested in leading by example now and do not want to pass along the same unhealthy relationship with food to their children while they embark on another nutrition journey.

If you’re looking for a way to lead by example for your children and set them up for a lifetime of healthy habits, look no further than improving an unhealthy relationship with food. Our clients have seen incredible results by making small changes that add up over time, and we know you can too.

Schedule a free clarity call today to get started on the path to sustainable weight loss without fad diets. You’ll be glad you did!

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