Overweight? Blame it on Mom.

Overweight? Blame it on Mom.

by Boyd Jentzsch

HEART PLAN weight loss logo

It is important sometimes to ask why you eat the way you do. The most surprising answer to that is “Mom made me do it.”

Mom may have made you do it. But, your Mom is not a villain, of course. Nor was she on a warpath to destroy your happiness. Or make you overweight. Quite the contrary. She would be mortified by the mere suggestion.

Your Mom saw her job as passing on the dietary wisdom of her mother, and her grandmother, while improving on them by starting some new family eating habits of her own. And surely she based those “new traditions” on the “new science” she knew that her mother didn’t.

Weight Loss MotivationMoms do that. That is their job. But that is not to say Mom was always right. You also know that. But what you may be only dimly aware of is that Mom’s most indelible food lessons were not “taught “to you. They were “caught.”

It’s just like Mom passing on her cold to you, although she didn’t realize you were catching it from her. Nor did she intend it. Nevertheless, you caught a cold from her. She sneezed. Later, you sneezed.

HOW you eat. WHAT you eat. What you DON’T eat. WHEN you eat. These are all “CAUGHT” things.

Mom could preach all she wanted about healthy eating habits, but most likely you now eat like her, healthy or not. You followed what she did, not what she said.

Now, I’m not saying you like and eat the same foods as Mom. Perhaps you do, perhaps you don’t. No, the real mirror image of your Mom is in your attitude to food. I’ll give you some examples:

– Do you feel compelled to eat just about everything that’s put on you plate, even today?
– Do you pick at your food?
– Or push it around with your fork while you’re thinking of something else?
– Or eat absent-mindedly, especially when watching TV (or reading your phone)?
– Do you tend to skip meals to lose weight?
– Do diet drinks and diet food find a regular place on your family table?
– Or eat when you are tired, or depressed, or upset, or discouraged?
– Or reward yourself with a sweet or fattening treat? (Especially late at night?)

Weight Loss MotivationIn each of these cases you are either now following her pattern. Or, as likely in some cases, you were rebelling against “her way,” so you developed your own way.

She didn’t tell you to do any of these things. But if you remember carefully, you’ll pick up the clues to how you “caught” the food habits you have now (likely a lot of them) early on in your young life.

And they are persistent habits, long after Mom has stopped being a major influence in your daily life.

If you are a woman, you get most of your eating habits from your Mom…and the rest of them in reaction to her’s. The sooner you can see that, the sooner you will be on the road to healthy eating… and less weight.

Mom Made Me Do It.
The other night I was at a self-serve restaurant with family friends. It was a bit late and the regular restaurants were all closed. We had just gotten out of a movie, and we were famished. So we loaded our plates (only the healthiest of options, of course) and began to eat.

I wasn’t half way through the plate when I began feeling full. A few bites later, I was stuffed. Still I kept forking it in. I was seeing more and more plate, and less and less food covering it.

How stupid was I? I wasn’t hungry. Still I ate. And ate some more. Then I realized, “Mom made me do it.”

We didn’t always have the most abundant or elegant food on the table when I was young. But my Mom’s rule was, “If you put it on your plate, eat it all. Or don’t put it on your plate in the first place.”

I definitely joined the clean-plate-club at an early age. I’m still a card-carrying member. Our family mantra: “Remember all the starving children in China!” (Do you have a similar story?)

Knowing I don’t have to eat everything on my plate TODAY – knowing I SHOULDN’T – hasn’t stopped me from eating more than I should. I eat just because there is food on my plate. I’m not stupid, so how can this be?

Have you ever felt that way about eating – feel compelled by a mysterious force to eat in ways, or certain foods, that you know are not best for you?

Perhaps Mom is at fault. But, that doesn’t solve anything does it?

The key understanding about food is freeing yourself from these hidden, powerful compulsions.

You free yourself of those compulsions by first understanding they are there (whether or not you “caught” them from Mom). Next, by choosing and consistently using replacement, more healthful habits.

To develop healthier eating habits, you MUST first be mindful.

You have to make yourself aware of WHY you are eating, HOW you are eating, and WHEN you are eating… even the SPEED at which you are forking it in.

Once you start that process, you will uncover layers of strangely self-defeating eating behaviors, lurking just below the surface of the most obvious ones.

The difficulty is that “NOTICING YOUR EATING PROCESS” is not an easy task. It is not a fully rational task. You can’t just talk yourself out of a silent, compelling behavior of which you are dimly aware. But you can flag it, so that when it happens, you can give yourself a pause, and take the quick action needed to change your behaviors.

Weight Loss MotivationYou Need a Robust Diet of Ideas.

It’s sort of like a diet. But this is not a diet about food. It is a diet of ideas and “caught things.” You need to eliminate the “caught things” – behaviors, ideas – that push your hunger and your cravings outside of your conscious control.

What I have learned to do is to be aware – of what I eat, when I eat it, how I eat, and what I don’t eat. These “caught things” could destroy my best of intentions if I didn’t bring them out of the darkness of unquestioned habits.

Does any of this resonate with you? Have you ever felt food compulsions in any way?

You see, it is easy to blame your lack of healthy eating on Mom, especially when she’s not around to defend herself. And it’s easy to extend that blame onto your excess weight.

But, if you are looking for a solution, look in the mirror. You really do know most of what you need to know to curb your appetite and lose weight. One of your first key tasks is for you to discover the hidden “caught” things that constantly defeat you. Then implement a way of consistently doing right things that are more healthy.

And you need to do them NOW.

Why now? Because it is the Mom in YOU that is passing on YOUR “caught things” to your kids and grandkids.

Is that what you want?

HEART PLAN weight loss logo

© 2009, 2014 Boyd Jentzsch. All rights reserved.

-by Boyd Jentzsch
View Boyd Jentzsch's profile on LinkedIn
Boyd, a recovering Attorney, turned to weight loss research 20 years ago when he lost his mother to the lifelong effects of obesity. He has spent the ensuing years searching the science, and formulating a comprehensive metabolic map of the body — the only complete map of its kind. The map reveals the causes and effects of obesity and related chronic lifestyle diseases. It shows the only proven pathways to preventing and losing excess weight. From that unique foundation, he and his team created a weight loss education program that has helped tens of thousands to lose weight and keep it off. Plus, they created innovative and fun fitness and nutrition education programs for elementary school children, proven to reduce the early bio-markers for childhood obesity. HEART PLAN is a collection of his observations over the years of the emotional impact and motivational challenges nearly everyone faces when trying to keep lost weight off permanently.

See the Chapter Summary to Remember here.

All Published Chapters are available here. Plus FREE PDF’s for each to Download.

ASK Your Weight Loss, and Motivation Questions HERE, for a personal response.

Do you have friends who could enjoy and benefit from this article?
Share, Pin, Email, Tweet using the Share Buttons.

subscribe celebratewomantoday


  1. Raye Wiedner says

    This article is so spot on! I used to eat just like my mom did. While raising my kids, I tried to do a little better than I learned, by adding more variety, especially with veggies.
    I’ve finally learned to listen to my body and not ‘clean the plate’ if I’m feeling full, and to slow down rather than wolf down my food to get to the next thing on my to-do list. Even though my daughters are grown now, we still have many meals together and talk about food and share recipes. I’m very happy to say, they’re doing much better than I did, and we’re all still learning to eat more mindfully and healthfully together.

  2. Rebecca Swenor says

    I really haven’t noticed this with myself. I never liked the stuff my mom did like mayo on a lot of stuff. This is interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  3. My mom was a very unhealthy cook. We used to get hamburgers for dinner, no sides, but you could eat as many as you want. Then one day it would be like Thanksgiving. Getting old makes you eat healthier, at least in my case.

  4. This is great information. My mom came from a generation who was told that they “must” eat everything on their plate or otherwise it was wasteful. All of my aunts and uncles are obese because their eyes were bigger than their plates. My mother however never really learned how to cook anything that wasn’t from a box with instructions on the back. I now as a mom am trying to break two molds with my family. Its ok to say you are full as long as you try everything on the plate (making more veggies and healthy stuff) and making sure portion sizes are accurate as well as not cooking everything from the back of a box. This is great advice!

  5. I know a lot of the poor eating habits I have now come from what I was taught, but like you said, she did her best. Now I just try to be aware of my actions, make the best choices I can, and hope I’m teaching my daughter to make good choices for herself.

  6. I did pick up unhealthy habits growing up that I certainly am trying to change in my own family.

  7. The most important reason I started my weight loss journey was to be a good healthy role model for my daughter.

  8. I have the habit of finishing up my plate so when they place a lot I’m really forced to eat a lot too.

  9. Thanks for sharing these healthy tips. I need to get in shape myself.

  10. A healthy lifestyle really is a family affair and healthy habits start at the dinner table.

  11. This really is so true.. but i learned to eat like that when i met my wife.. her mother was such a great cook and knew some amazing restaurants to go and eat..

  12. My other favorite is – eat whatever is served to you even if you don’t like it. It took me years to politely decline food. OY! The lessons we are taught.

    ps: recovering attorney! Ha! My husband will love that one. I will have to share it with him….he, I suspect will steal it from you.

  13. Katrina A. says

    I’ve never thought of it that way. I semi agree but I don’t know. The one that I do agree with is cleaning your plate. How many time have I done what you did and keep eating even though I’m stuffed. Great to get me thinking about how I feed my son.

  14. I blame no one but myself! She did make us eat most of our food, but she didn’t make us continue if she thought we were really full. If it were peas that were left she’d make me eat……

  15. I like the mix of circumstance and personal responsibility. Yes, we do “catch” attitudes, tendencies, and beliefs, but we are not stuck with them. We can change. We can shift. We can progress. Thank you for this thought provoking post. I agree that we learn what we see, not what we are taught.

  16. In all honesty I can not blame my Mom for what I eat or don’t eat–her Mom brought her up to eat to live-not live to eat and she more or less followed that pattern with me. Now-my Dad was a different story! Clean Plate Club! He also used to make steak and potatoes for breakfast for himself and for me-My Mom was never a breakfast eater (I might have picked that up from her)-and my Dad’s Mom was an EatEatEat type of grandma–oh how I loved her!!

  17. Points made! I am definitely guilty of all of this, especially with the fact that I tend to eat something just because it’s there. I know it’s more than my fault, it’s my inability to control myself. The more I read your blog, the more slapped I feel about the things I know I’m doing wrong and the “caught” things.

  18. I would never blame my mom for my eating habits. I do blame her for my shopping habits though. LOL

  19. Thanks for sharing the tips!:)

  20. lisa jones says

    Thank You For The Great Tips I Don’t Have A Weight Problem But Will Pass Along To A Friend Of Mine Thank You!

  21. Very interesting article! I never thought about it that way. Luckily- my mom lives far away..so I can not blame my eating habits on her. Oh- not easy to change 🙂

  22. This is an interesting theory but I know that i personally eat nothing at all like my mother or even my grandmother who I was close to.

  23. Meh, I’m not buying it, I am an adult I need to own y choices

  24. I guess her eating like a bird was probably a good thing then! I’ve always made my portions very small thanks to her because that’s just what I was used to!

  25. Amanda K says

    Wow, I had never thought of it that way, No I am going to re-evaluate what I say and do too in front of the kids!

  26. We ate A LOT of processed food when I was little and our choice of drink was always some type of soda. Now I live a life of moderation and I made this choice and educated myself better about food.

  27. While I agree that eating habits are something taught to us, I’m not sure I can single out moms. I think it’s more of a cultural or family influence. Still this information is very useful.

  28. i am, but i am on a diet. trying to get in better shape 🙂

  29. and i think its junk to blame it on mom. everything is blamed on mom. blame the gov’t which subsidizes garbage going into our food.

  30. I really enjoyed this read. I have always wondered these things as I picked up my dads eating habits. We were mirror images of each other and my sister alined with my Mother. liking and disliking the same things down to a tee.

  31. Well, My mom had Thyroid and I am over weight because of Thyroid. Yes, I can blame my mom… hehe JOkes apart!

    Its healthy and keeping a healthy lifestyle is our duty, no matter if one has Thyroid or any other disorder

  32. I don’t see how it’s your parent’s fault for YOUR body being fat.. that’s your body, your choices.. having babies made me fat, but i’m not blaming my kids..

    • Celebrate Woman says

      The point of the post is not to BLAME anybody! it is to understand how our family culture, our environment where we grow up form the base of what we eat, how we eat, what attitude towards food we develop.
      And Yes, we can and should take the lead and be responsible what decisions we make. Once you Understand responsibility, you will get why you are overweight, along other multitude of human and personal issues.
      One post cannot cover it all. We focus on one or two tiny details of a huge issue, in this case being overweight.

  33. I could SEE MYSELF in theis post 100%~

  34. I agree with you somewhat. I try not to pass on the bad eating habits that i have to my daughter.

  35. Love the healthy thoughts and ideas. Thanks!

Speak Your Mind