The hashtag “Almond Mom” is going nuts on TikTok, thanks in part to “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” alum Yolanda Hadid.
In a video compilation featuring old clips from “RHOBH,” Yolanda is shown in 2014 talking on the phone with her then-teenage daughter, Gigi.
“I’m feeling really weak. I had, like, half an almond,” a shaky-sounding Gigi tells her mother.
Yolanda’s response? “Have a couple of almonds, and chew them really well.”
And just like that, the term “Almond Mom” was born.
Yolanda defended her controversial comment in an interview with People, explaining that she was recovering from surgery and “half asleep” when Gigi called. She also acknowledged her now infamous advice by posting a TikTok of herself snacking on almonds while doing a variety of activities, including yoga. “#worstmomever #almonds,” reads the caption.
Yolanda was clearly poking fun at herself. But Dr. Karla Lester, a pediatrician and childhood obesity expert, isn’t laughing. Lester pointed out that Yolanda was also filmed shaming Gigi for wanting to indulge on her birthday.
"You can have one night of being bad, right," Yolanda says. "Then you gotta get back on your diet, though. Because, you know, in Paris and Milan they like the girls just a tad on the skinny side."
According to Lester, an almond mom is a person who is usually “stuck in diet culture,” and likely grew up hearing phrases such as “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 told 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 unattainable.”
Parenting and youth development expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa agrees with Lester’s assessment.
“There’s this belief that our body shape is a reflection of our character, of our strength of will and our motivation to be healthy,” Gilboa told TODAY. “A lot of parents are taking that idea one step further and feel that their kids’ body shape is a referendum on their parenting.”
“None of it is true,” she added.
TikTokers have been opening up about their own almond moms. One woman revealed that when she was growing up, her mother forbid her from consuming white carbs, while another woman shared footage of her “two almonds a day mom” enjoying a peach at a restaurant.
“I am over the age of 50. I do not remember a time that I wasn’t aware of the value of different foods when it came to calories,” a TikTok user, who goes by Kim from NC, began. “As a kid, I would say, ‘Hey, what’s for dessert?’ And my mom would say, ‘There’s fruit in the fridge.’ And she would say things like, ‘Are you sure you want to eat that?’”
“I knew from a very young age that her motivation came from a place of wanting to protect me,” she tells viewers.
At the same time, Kim said she is determined to "break the cycle" with her son. She keeps treats in the house and no food is off limits because "when we know better, we do better."
Gilboa said there are “many great lessons” to take from the almond mom trope.
“So many wonderful parents struggle to help their kids live in healthy bodies, without poisoning their minds against food,” Gilboa told TODAY. “This is a balance beam many find themselves on.”
Gilboa said the first step is to stop placing moral values on foods 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 their coolest, most interesting tools that they have for moving through the world,” she explained. “It allows them to do the things they enjoy doing like dancing and running. And in order for it to work best, it needs a balance of different fuels, including fruits and vegetables."
If you notice your child is gaining weight, Gilboa said to survey the inventory in your cupboards, as kids ages 12 and below make most of their food choices at home. And whatever you do, do not mention weight or body shape, she said.
Gilboa highlighted "five things that have been proven to improve kids’ overall fitness and nutrition":
- Eating breakfast every morning.
- Eating takeout no more than once a week.
- Moving 60 minutes a day.
- No more than two hours of recreational screen time a day.
- And no more than 6 ounces of sweetened drinks per day.
“Those five interventions make a huge difference,” she continued. “And if you can do them before age 12, that’s when you’re not only building patterns, that’s when you’re still mostly in control of what they eat.”
When dealing with a teenager, Gilboa said to avoid telling 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 of your body right now? How is your body doing for you?’” she said. “You want to talk about their body in the third person because therapists have found it helps to reduce shame and increase objectivity.”
Lester stressed the importance of positive body image promotion and family mealtimes.
“There’s data that shows these things help raise children who can can be steered away from developing an eating disorder or experiencing unhealthy weight gain,” she said.
“When you shame, when you judge, that’s when problems arise.”