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Why do we go off track at our Mom’s house?

It took me years to put it together and realize it’s a “thing,” but now I see it clearly. Something about going home for Pesach, or even a Shabbos, breaks down even the strongest dieter. 

I posed this question to my followers. 92 percent of people said that going home brings out more eating or different eating in them. When asked why, the responses were varied, some of which were: 

– free food

– stress 

– family drama 

– associating mom with comfort food 

– pressure from relatives

– when you’re served versus being the one to serve, your appetite is bigger 

– feeling like a kid again and letting mom feed me 

I asked a few therapists for their input on this. Here is what they said:

Shlomo Bineth, PhD, LMHC:

1) People’s eating habits are very much influenced by their upbringing, and how they were modeled to and taught as a child. Therefore, going back home, people tend to revert to old habits without even noticing them. 

2) It’s a break from routine. We all know that routine is one of your best friends when it comes to healthy eating. Going away is a change in routine and it could impact your healthy eating.

3) Parents are often not on the same page about eating healthy and they serve you foods that are not part of your diet. 

4) Serving food can be a form of showing love. We frequently see this when grandparents give their grandchildren nosh and candies when they come over. Parents want to please their children by cooking a lot of tasty food. 

Devorah Goldman, LCSW:

The way parents talk about food influences the development of a child’s healthy or unhealthy eating habits. When we return to our family of origin, it kicks up childhood memories. We often associate comfort foods with childhood memories and therefore we may find ourselves regressing into old patterns of unhealthy eating.

How to handle it:

1. Don’t assume the worst. When your mother wants to serve you that delicious kugel, she probably wants you to have it because she takes pride in that dish or because she knows you love it. 

2. Look out for triggers. If you know that you will encounter tempting foods, prepare yourself mentally and physically, by not going on an empty stomach or by bringing along some of your own foods.

3. Don’t be afraid to say no. Saying no sometimes won’t hurt anyone. You don’t need to feel guilty nor do you need to explain yourself.

4. Be consistent. If you don’t take your diet seriously you can’t expect other people to do so. If one Shabbos you’re dieting and the next you’re asking for cake, no one will take you seriously.

And remember: There’s nothing like family so don’t avoid going, just learn strategies and tools to handle it better!

Tanya