TODAY   |  February 26, 2014

Diaz talks body image with moms, daughters

In Wednesday’s installment of our “Love Your Selfie” series, actress Cameron Diaz joins NBC’s Maria Shriver and some moms and daughters to tackle body image issues and chat cravings. Diaz says it’s important for the pairs to understand “the science of their bodies.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> how habits both good and bad are passed from one generation to the next generation. maria shriver has more on that. good morning to you.

>> good morning to you, matt. we enlisted the help of cameron diaz who can add a new title to her bio, that is author. her book, an in-depth look at how the food we put into our bodies affects us inside and out. cameron and i sat down with a handful of mothers and daughters to understand how their own habits influence each other.

>> the reason i wrote the book is i really, really truly believe there's not one generation yet of mothers who have raised their daughters understanding the actual science of their bodies.

>> gorgeous girls.

>> love you, mom.

>> love you, too.

>> what can mothers do to help their daughters to have a healthy relationship with their body?

>> really, the answer of how we can be who we want to be and who we're meant to be is really having the knowledge of knowing what's going on within our bodies.

>> do you feel like you're in the body you're meant to have? and do you feel like your mother helped you with that or messed you up?

>> i think my mom did a great job. i was taught always, always from day one that beauty comes from within.

>> and on the flip side of that, i've tried to impart, also to emily and our other daughter claire don't do what i did.

>> what did you do?

>> i ate -- i've eaten my way to this point. i'm upset, i want a cookie. i'm happy, i want a cupcake.

>> we always just hear about food and thin/fat. but for you to talk about it in terms of what you put in your body --

>> they always say you are what you eat.

>> you are a burrito with black beans .

>> extra cheese, extra sauce, no onions. i literally had 50 -- i'm not exaggerating, 50 cystic acnes all over my face. you come to the place of starting to think, what is this doing? if it's doing that to my face, what is it doing to my inside, you know?

>> lo and behold your skin.

>> and the last thing for me was -- but something i never thought i could live without is cheese. cheese was my go to. and i never thought i would be able to live without it. now i don't even think about it.

>> she taught me about the eating healthy and cooking, steaming.

>> so you actually eat for nutrition?

>> yeah.

>> most of the time.

>> i go on my little binges. i try to every day put something healthy in my body.

>> we eat for so many reasons. and, you know, the most important reason is for nutrition.

>> did you know growing up what's good for you?

>> i didn't have white bread until i was 9 years old because it wasn't allowed in the house. and i didn't know why it wasn't good for me.

>> understanding those things, i think, is so empowering. and if you had that information to convey to her, she might have thought of things differently at 9 years old.

>> do you think women our age are actually learning about our bodies through our daughters?

>> i think so. i think so. she's taught me so much. i knew what to eat and what not to eat, not that i did it, but through her, i'm learning so much more about why.

>> i think that the knowledge of your body and how it works on a cellular level and understanding what that truly, truly means is the best thing that a mother can understand, not just for herself, but then can pass on to her daughter or children.

>> that is also interesting that on our "today" aol body image survey, found 51% of all parents worry about how their body image affects their children.

>> yeah, but go back to your personal story. your mom was someone, i know, who always emphasized health over looks. as a young girl , did you always see eye to eye with your mom on that?

>> no. i don't know any young girl that always sees eye to eye with your mom. my mom stressed mental health and physical health . she came out of the woman's movement to not focus on your looks but to focus on your brain. she didn't talk a lot about nutrition. and most of the women in that room said, you know, that's a thing in the last 10, 15 years where so many of our daughters are actually educating us about what's good for us, about kale. i'd never heard of kale or quinoa until recently.

>> and you've got two boys.

>> yeah.

>> do you actively talk about this?

>> i think it's important as parents to lead by example. my husband and i are both fitness addicts, and we exercise about five days a week. and i think they know in their lives exercise is important, it's a great way for them to be more confident and to, i think, ultimately feel like they can do anything.

>> but it's empowerment, not looking better in your clothes and the girls will like you more.

>> it's not about being a certain size. it's more about having confidence in yourself and it's about empowering and feeling strong and healthy.

>> natalie, thank you. maria, thank you very much. we appreciate