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Explained: What is an ‘almond mom’ and why is it harmful for children

The idea is to teach kids the importance of eating a balanced diet instead of cutting food and the fallout of body shaming



A video on TikTok recently went viral – from a 2014 television clip (Real Housewives of Beverly Hills) where Gigi tells her mother: “I’m feeling really weak. I had, like, half an almond.” Yolanda Hadid replies: “Have a couple of almonds, and chew them really well.”

The term ‘almond mom’ stemmed from there and refers to those who have orthorexia – an obsession with proper to healthful eating. Unfortunately, almond moms give out unhealthy eating advice that has no place when it comes to eating a balanced diet.

According to Mansimar Kaur, an alumna of Apeejay School, Faridabad who is a nutritionist and a dietician with her practice, the reason for our fixation on our body shape is deep-rooted in how we think. “Strangely, for Indians, any change in our bodies calls for comment. Most of us have heard of: Oh my God, you have become so thin’ or Oh, you have put on weight since the last time I saw you. These statements hurt the psyche of the child and the first thing that happens is that the child cuts down their food intake. This is an extremely dangerous and unhealthy practice,” Kaur said.

“Cutting down on food means reducing the intake of vital vitamins and minerals. This reduces immunity which in turn makes our bodies vulnerable to illnesses”

Mansimar Kaur, Nutritionist and Dietician

There is a reason why we see so many health problems among the young population, she said. “Cutting down on food means reducing the intake of vital vitamins and minerals that our bodies require. This reduces immunity which in turn makes our bodies vulnerable to illnesses. This was something that we saw even when COVID-19 was at its peak. With immunity down, liver, kidney, and heart ailments crop up,” Kaur explained.

Instead of cutting down on food/meals, a better option would be to make small lifestyle modifications, Kaur advised. “If the child feels his meals are of a larger quantity, cut down on portion size and eat small but frequent meals. Go for healthier snacks rather than eating fried food. Instead of eating out every day, cut it down to once a week. Including a lot of fruits and salads in your daily diet. This will not only help you shed the necessary weight, the child will end up eating healthier food which is good for overall growth and development.

According to Dr Sanjay Chugh, a neuro-psychiatrist in Delhi said that when there is excessive focus on how a child or an individual’s body is and how a person can be attractive only if he or she is thin and skinny, it is always going to affect the self-concept, the self-image, and the self-confidence.

“This microscopic and myopic view of looking at the child, talking about how he/she looks all the time and then getting the child to see himself or herself in this light is going to lead to a lot of psychological consequences. The child grows up thinking that if he/she is not skinny, then they are not attractive and people will not like them. The result is that the child starts restricting food intake. This is the beginning of what we call eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, and bulimia nervosa to name a few,” Dr Chugh warned.

“The microscopic and myopic views of looking at the child, talking about how he/she looks, and then getting the child to see himself or herself in this light are going to lead to a lot of psychological consequences”

DR Sanjay Chugh, a neuro-psychiatrist

While this fixation on looking like a certain body type may not be rooted in our culture, children whose parents especially their mothers are fixated on the body are almost certainly going to develop a full-blown eating disorder.

“It is the impact that the media has definitely had in the last couple of decades on self-perception where all the top models are skinny so much focus on being a size zero and equating it to being attractive and sexy. But we know that this is not correct. There are various cultures where being big is seen as a sign of being healthy,” Dr Chugh opined.

He added that in more recent times, the Internet has overemphasized looks. “It naturally follows that body shaming is inevitable if the child is exposed to such inputs at home where the mother is taunting the child that he/she is not good enough because they don’t look a certain way. This, in a way, is what the child is displacing onto his/her interactions with other children/peers. But the truth is that it is the ‘almond mom’ who is acutely sensitive about her physical appearance; she’s just transferring it to the child,” Dr Chugh said in conclusion.

Shalini is an Executive Editor with Apeejay Newsroom. With a PG Diploma in Business Management and Industrial Administration and an MA in Mass Communication, she was a former Associate Editor with News9live. She has worked on varied topics - from news-based to feature articles.

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