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Parenting Without Diet Culture with Oona Hanson

eating disorders midlife parenting self-compassion un-dieting

When we know better, we do better. It’s what naturally happens when we commit to doing the work of healing our relationship with food and our bodies. But what does that mean practically for the way we parent or mentor the young people in our lives? How can we avoid unintentionally allowing diet culture back into our home? 


To help us answer these questions, I decided to call on Oona Hanson, a parent coach who blends professional know-how with personal insight. Together we tackled the tricky topic of diet culture and body image within families.

Oona pointed out that how we talk about food and ourselves can influence our kids' beliefs. Parenting gets even trickier when eating disorders come into play. Though it can be easy to blame ourselves for the struggles our kids face, Oona highlights how many other genetic, behavioral, and societal factors are at play in these situations. A much better investment of our emotional energy is in trying to understand their experience and advocating for early intervention.

We also talked about the importance of promoting positive body image during the emotional roller coaster of the teenage years. Oona also gave some practical examples of what this could look like. For one, we can normalize the fact that all bodies, but especially young bodies- change. This means we often need to update clothing sizes. Oona shared some savvy advice, like snagging the next size up on your kid's favorite clothes when you stumble upon a sale. It's a simple move that can help ease a lot of the common discomfort about body changes.

Even when we are working hard to be generational cycle breakers, we have to be prepared to extend grace to ourselves, remembering that we are still on our own journeys. On the hard days, it’s easy to get  disregulated and possibly revert to those behaviors we were trying so hard to avoid. Oona reminded us that it is never too late to circle back and debrief these moments with our kids. 

The societal pressure to raise “healthy” eaters can also feel impossible to escape. But if your goal is to keep diet culture out of your home, what you really want is to raise normal eaters. It means that we choose to practice lowering the bar and making room for all foods at the table. When time is not a luxury and stress levels are high, going through a drive-thru doesn’t mean we’ve failed. It means everyone had dinner. 

To learn more about Oona and the work she does, be sure to check out her website at or follow her on IG @oona_hanson or on FB @ParentingWithoutDietCulture.

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