The closer I come to being a mother, the more I worry about how careful I’ll have to be if I have daughters. I’ve no doubt there are some negative sentences ideas just programmed into me — things I say without even realizing (given my history and recovery with EDs).

I’d caution any mother...even the LITTLE things can be a BIG deal.

I think many women don’t realize when they are making deep, lasting impressions on their daughters. This isn’t about my Mom, though I did experience some of the things on the list.

After years of reading, studying and dealing with EDs (an the grand experience of being a little girl!), I’ve learned about some of the things women do that can really harm their daughters thinking regarding body image and food. (This list is from what I’ve learned, not all of it from my personal history.) Moms, future moms, take note:

1. Don’t talk about being fat or skinny. Talk about being healthy or unhealthy.
2. Don’t talk about eating “too much.” Just keep it to yourself if you feel overly full.

3. Don’t act is if exercise is punishment or something you “have” to do to stay thin.
4. Don’t comment on other women’s bodies as enviable or unattractive.

5. Emphasize the positive benefits of food for nutrition, energy and taste.
6. If you are on a diet or trying to lose weight, keep it to yourself!
7. Limit how much you discuss food. Don’t make what you order at restaurant a big deal. Food is part of life but it shouldn’t be stressful or cause anxiety. Do not let your daughter see you stressing out about what to order, buy at the store or whether to order dessert. 
8. No food is off-limits! Don’t say your daughter can’t have something because it’s “bad for you.” Ask questions like, are you full or are you still hungry to determine if you child wants more of something. 

9. Do NOT ever make any negative comments about your body. EVER. 
10. ***Don’t make food or sweets of any kind a “reward” too often. It’s just food and shouldn’t be seen as something you get when you are “good” and are deprived of when you are “bad.”

*** (I see parents — Moms and Dads — doing this way too often for boys and girls.) 

That’s by no means a comprehensive list but I think many people just don’t think about how their words and ideas can have a major impact later in life. I can think of specific moments, that happened in a split second, that have stuck with me to this day.

I don’t know when the seed of my eating disorder began but it took several years to actually grow into something. It starts very young and you’ve got to be hyper-careful with little girls.

Today, I’m recovered. A few issues remain but it took over 10 years to get through it and find recovery. That’s way too much time out of my life to be dealing with something and I never want my daughter to go through what I did.

If you have more tips to add for Moms, leave them in the comments.
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