The Viral 'Almond Mom' Trend Is Calling Out Controversial Diet Culture

Gwyneth Paltrow described her wellness routine in a Dear Media interview posted on TikTok, which included having coffee for breakfast, bone broth for lunch, and vegetables for dinner to support her detox. She also said she exercised an hour a day before getting into the infrared sauna. TikTok users criticized her, saying her diet looked more like a colonoscopy prep and that bone broth didn't constitute a meal. One user said Paltrow was the "mother of all almond moms."

Almond mom? The term stems from an old clip from "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," where Yolanda Hadid told her daughter Gigi to eat a few almonds after feeling weak. An almond mom is a parent who is obsessed with diet culture or takes healthy eating to unhealthy extremes. The almond mom promotes these disordered eating habits to her children, teaching them that a thin appearance or body size makes them valuable.

TikTok user Tyler Bender says she uses her account to make people aware of what a diet-obsessed mom might look like. She told Teen Vogue that she exaggerates some of the behaviors and sayings that she witnessed while growing up with her own almond mom. Now more TikTok users are sharing their humorous — and troubling — stories as they call out unhealthy eating behaviors.

A mother's disordered eating can affect her children

An almond mom might restrict certain foods in the house because she believes certain foods will make her family fat, according to Parade. If her child is hungry, an almond mom will say that hunger masks thirst. The child of an almond mom will often hear about the mom's dissatisfaction with her body. Food isn't about nutrition in the house of an almond mom –- it's all about calories.

A 2021 systematic review in the Archives of Clinical Psychiatry found that a child's likelihood of developing an eating disorder can depend on the mother's eating behaviors and body attitudes. That's because mothers transmit these eating patterns and body dissatisfaction to their daughters, according to a 2020 study in Eating Disorders. Bender told Teen Vogue that she often catches herself thinking diet-obsessed thoughts, such as getting irritable when a restaurant doesn't offer a low-calorie salad dressing option. She tries not to vilify the almond mom. After all, their mothers were raised in diet-obsessed cultures well before the word "body positivity" was ever uttered.

What to do about an almond mom

Unfortunately, many disordered eating patterns are masked as wellness trends, according to Insider. Dieticians warn not to follow celebrities for wellness advice, especially since excessive dieting and similar behaviors increase your likelihood of developing an eating disorder. It's also important to become aware of the different types of eating disorders, since some of them can parade as healthy eating behaviors. For example, orthorexia is a type of eating disorder where you're so obsessed with healthy eating that you limit yourself to a narrow range of foods, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. People with orthorexia might become stressed when dining with friends and "healthy" options aren't available.

Some parents might be modeling an "almond mom lite," where they exercise for hours a day and become obsessed with eating clean (via Parents). The parents might not be restricting their children's foods, but the children are watching their behavior. If you realize you're an almond mom (or that your parent might be one), avoid labeling foods as "good" or "bad." These terms are likely to elicit a feeling of shame when someone eats "bad" food. Because the numbers on a scale aren't the best indicators of health, emphasize how exercise and healthy foods can benefit overall health rather than weight loss. Finally, if your social media feed emphasizes diet culture, find different people to follow who offer different perspectives.