WARNING: diet culture and eating disorders
One relationship many of us struggle with is our relationship with food, as well as our relationship with our bodies.
Unfortunately, many of our struggles go back to how we were raised, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Similar-Ad-831 didn’t want to continue the cycle with their daughter that their husband had gone through while he was growing up.
But when they received pushback, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if they were wrong for not being more strict about diets.
They asked the sub:
“AITA for putting my foot down about decreasing my daughter’s portion sizes?”
The OP and their husband were raised differently about food.
“My husband’s parents were very strict about food growing up.”
“They restricted him in what he could eat and shamed him for eating anything they deemed ‘bad’.”
“They didn’t teach him how to have a good relationship with food, and subsequently this led to him sneaking in junk food as a teenager and going crazy once he moved out of the home.”
“He gained a lot of weight because he was eating all the things he couldn’t eat as a kid and had no sense of self-regulation.”
“On the other hand, my parents forbid any diet talk in the house and didn’t categorize foods as good or bad, and as a result, I have a great relationship with food.”
“There was also zero talks of weight in our household, which is something I want to carry out now as I raise our child.”
The differences became more obvious when their child became a preteen.
“My husband and I have an 11-year-old daughter together and so far things have been going really well.”
“She’s never been a skinny kid, but she’s at a perfectly healthy weight for her age and height.”
“Lately, she’s hit a growth spurt and I swear she grew 3 inches taller in 3 months. She’s had a bigger appetite and has been going for seconds at dinner or having slightly bigger portions at meals.”
“She’s a good eater and she’ll eat all her veggies. It’s not like we’re pulling teeth to get her to eat spinach or anything.”
“With her growth, she’s obviously gained a little weight as you do when you get taller/eat more/get all those pre-teenage hormones working.”
“She’s still healthy. She’s still playing basketball and swimming and doing everything she loves.”
The OP and their husband couldn’t agree with how to proceed.
“But despite this, my husband really wants to begin monitoring her portion sizes and not lett her go for seconds, or let her eat chips or lollies at all.”
“I put my foot down and told him absolutely not, because that’s a quick way to fast track an ED (eating disorder) at her age.”
“He told me he doesn’t want her to be fat like him.”
“I told him the reason for his weight is due to his parents’ attitude towards food, and that if having a fat daughter is so terrifying, then we should be encouraging her to have a healthy outlook on all kinds of foods and not restricting.”
“I also said he should be more scared of having a daughter with an eating disorder than having a fat daughter.”
The OP was criticized by others for this.
“He called his parents, who have never had anything nice to say about my daughter’s weight.”
“His mum was your typical ‘always on a diet mum,’ and it really messed up his sister.”
“This is the last thing I want for my daughter and I feel like I’m being attacked by them.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some said the OP did the right thing by speaking up.
“This IS the hill to die on.”
“NTA, and stand your ground for her.”
“I would clue her in though as to what the paternal side might say, and frame it as, ‘they have a lot of ideas that are not good ideas, because there weren’t a lot of people with healthy outlooks when they were growing up. Your Dr is the person to trust on issues with weight or diet and if you have any questions or doubts we can talk them over with them if you’d like.'” – Doublebreastedberb
“You are being a great mom! If your husband is concerned about a fat daughter, you shouldn’t discuss weight or portion control. You should educate your kids about healthy foods and what’s not healthy, and encourage them to make healthy choices. If you aren’t already of course.”
“But also, your husband sounds concerned about his daughter. It is not an existing issue, but he doesn’t come from a bad place.”
“If I were you, I would make an appointment with a certified dietician for your husband and you. Not your daughter! That way he can ask all his questions and worries to a professional, so he can stop worrying without the risk of giving your daughter an ED.” – ilja1995
“Thank you for doing that for your daughter.”
“You’re NTA, but if your husband is so concerned about her weight, maybe you all should start doing family walks/exercise together. It’ll help HIM too.”
“I am fat, I have a terrible relationship with food (unaddressed depression, ‘kids in Africa going hungry’ upbringing mixed in with ‘omg, you chub’ and restrictive diets since I was 12).”
“My kids, neither of them, are fat. They are welcome to have seconds, or not finish their food if they’re not hungry. We have tried to find a nice balance and it always fills me with happiness to see them choose veggies over sweets, and not turn to food as comfort.” – Shanisasha
Others agreed but were also concerned about the marriage.
“NTA OP, are you not disturbed by your husband running to his mommy about this? Does he often do this?” – ksharonisok
“NTA – and you’re a great mom. However, I’d keep your child away from his parents as much as possible so she doesn’t develop any bad ideologies from them” – Lollipopthrowaway-
“Husband: my parents restricted my food and made me feel ashamed of my body and that’s why I became overweight as an adult.”
“Also husband: let’s restrict daughter’s food and make her feel ashamed of her body so she doesn’t become overweight.”
“Point the contradiction out to him if you haven’t already. He should probably be seeing a therapist or a dietician to help him develop a better relationship with food.”
“NTA.” – BeauteousMaximus
“Do NOT monitor her food! I say this as a fat kid who grew into a fat adult and had to unlearn a lot of bulls**t about eating.”
“Teaching her to listen to her body, to fuel it, and move it in ways that make her feel good, is the best way for her to have a positive relationship with food. Her weight will self-regulate to what is right for her body.”
“Your husband needs to know that IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS, he is NOT allowed to say anything to her about portion size. Or what she eats, unless she’s literally about to ingest poison.” – knitlikeaboss
While the OP felt uncertain because of how their in-laws reacted, the subReddit sided with the OP in not monitoring what their child ate. Teaching a child about nutrition and self-regulation is one thing, but controlling what they eat to meet some social standard is not.