How ‘Almond Mums’ pass on toxic attitudes: What it’s like to grow up with a diet-obsessed mother

It’s 2008. I am 12 years old and my mum has made me a packed lunch. Is it a cheese sandwich? In a way, yes. Except it’s really not. Instead of bread, the slabs of cheese sit inside two flaky slabs of Ryvita and instead of normal cheddar, it’s that cardboard “extra-light” cheddar. It is, put simply, the world’s saddest lunch: it is the Almond Mum’s lunch.

The Almond Mum is a new label for a familiar concept: women brainwashed by the toxic diet cultures of the 80s, 90s and Noughties. Long before words like “fat phobic” or “intuitive eating” entered public consciousness, women’s magazines pushed the “Special K” cereal diet or the zero-carbohydrates keto diet. Fast forward into adulthood, and these traumatised women are either consciously or unconsciously passing down their ideas around calorie-counting to their children – who are now old enough to question their unhealthy attitudes towards food.

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The children of Almond Mums have had enough: they want to break this unhealthy cycle. And they’re doing this by calling out these – as they see them – antiquated attitudes on social media. This new label, inspired by a woman widely hailed as the Queen of Almond Mums, Yolanda Hadid, is all over TikTok and Twitter as women swap stories of their granola-bar childhoods. In a now infamous clip from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, supermodel Gigi Hadid complains to her mother that she is hungry. Yolanda offers her “a couple of almonds”.

Type the Almond Mum hashtag into TikTok and 152.5 million results appear. The clips usually involve young women impersonating their mothers. “Why are you hiding food in your closet sweetie?” says one. “Oh wow, you’re already eating again? It’s only been seven hours since breakfast,” quips another. The trend became particularly popular over Christmas as daughters tried to combat their mother’s hatred of Christmas “gluttony”, or as others know it, enjoying the festive season.

But a refusal to indulge, even at Christmas, is just one Almond Mum signifier. “I have never seen my mum eat carbs,” says Millie Done, 26 from Skipton. Done’s mother is 56 and spent her…

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