a tough one

A Mom Wants To Know If She Should Allow Her Teen Daughter To Diet

"My husband is telling me that I should allow her to do what she wants."

A mom want to know if she should allow her daughter to diet even though she isn't overweight or unhe...

If you’re a woman who grew up in the 80s or 90s, there’s a pretty big chance that you’ve spent at least some of your life dieting — including your teenaged years. There was so much social pressure, so much fat-shaming, and so much bad information that led many of us to try trendy, unhealthy, and even disordered ways to lose pounds or look a certain way. Today, we have a better idea of what’s healthy and what’s not — and we better know that diet culture sucks. But that doesn’t mean that our girls feel any less pressure to lose weight. Or any less trouble loving their body.

So, what happens when your teenaged daughter wants to diet, but you’ve been there and done that and know how harmful it is? Do you let her do her thing and find out herself, or do you put your foot down? One mom is in the thick of it with her 15-year-old girl. And she went to Reddit for help: Is she an a**hole for telling her daughter that dieting is off-limits?

“I (44F) have a (15F) daughter named Marie,” she begins. “Marie has lately been complaining about her weight and has asked me if she can go on a low calorie diet. I told her that I don’t think it’s healthy for a girl her age to diet, and that she’s beautiful the way she is. She’s been pouting ever since and has made comments like ‘You’re just trying to keep me fat like you!’ and has left me wondering if I’m the a**hole”

The poster goes on to explain that she keeps a house of whole and wholesome food, though dinner sometimes cater to the less refined tastebuds of Marie’s two younger siblings.

“We have healthy options available in the house, lots of fruits and vegetables are available,” she says. “However, I will admit these aren’t always the main part of a meal. She has two younger siblings who are notoriously picky eaters and have some sensory issues, so we cook what they’ll eat. But we always have fruits and vegetables available as a side, and we cook at home. Marie is angry with me because I’m not allowing her to go low carb and low calorie, and my husband is telling me that I should allow her to do what she wants.”

The poster adds that her daughter is a pretty normal height and weight — 5’4 and 150 pounds — and that she’s taken her kid to the doctor, who says she’s normal and healthy. She also plays multiple sports and is physically active. She wants to eat less than 1,200 calories per day to lose weight.

Down in the comments, commenters generally declared that one was being a jerk in this scenario.

“She sounds like she has a healthy weight, and she is playing sports,” one person wrote. “1200 calories are WAY too little for a teenager still growing. Going to school and doing sports means she needs a lot of fuel, she is clearly on the verge of body dysmorphophobia — take her to a therapist and maybe a nutritionist? But if she is already in the clutches of a budging eating disorder she might not listen to them.”

Several people who had struggled with eating disorders as a teen spoke up. They warned that her daughter might need professional help, too. And that ignoring the issue and just telling her not to diet might not be a great solution.

“I have a daughter that developed anorexia nervosa , spent a month in the hospital, and two months in a residential facility. This is how it starts,” one person wrote. “Wanting to eat healthier or trying to lose weight. NTA and your instincts are good. Find a registered dietitian and a good therapist.”

“For me it started with ‘I want to be healthier’ aka ‘my life is so stressful so I will calculate all the calories, vitamins, and minerals that enters my body so that I can be in contro-healthy’,” another woman wrote. “I am lucky I noticed what it was doing to my mental health and stopped, but its so freaking easy to just continue under the argument of ‘its for health’. Especially when people are giving you compliments for being good and losing weight.”

“I have an ED and this lady is a bit delusional thinking that she can just say ‘but you're so beaaautiful!’ and magically make the thoughts go away,” another said. “She doesn't like her body, denying this reality will just make her more secretive and resentful of her mother.”

The final takeaway? Dealing with teens and body image is so, so hard. And it can be extremely difficult to know what to do when diet culture gets to your kid. Getting help from medical professionals and therapists can help — it can be impossible to shield your kids from all of the messages they get from the world about what they’re supposed to look like.