When a Mother-in-Law Controls the Food

This post was originally published on this site

Over at the Consults blog there’s a fascinating post about family eating issues. One reader talks about moving in with her mother-in-law, who quickly became controlling over her daughter-in-law’s eating habits.

I was not allowed to help myself to anything in the fridge or kitchen except bread and sometimes yogurt. We had to sneak out to the grocery store and “hide” our food in the refrigerator (way in the back) and eat when she was not there….Is there a name or term for someone who tries to control the eating habits of others in this way, or might this behavior simply be an eating disorder that is imposed upon others?

Dr. Kathryn Zerbe, professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health and Science University and a longtime expert on eating disorders, notes it’s not uncommon to see someone who has an eating issue of their own impose it on others. Sometimes the behavior is obvious and other times it’s more subtle, resulting in a “contagion effect” of negative feelings about weight and body image.

To read more about the contagion effect, as well as the link between fathers, kids and self-image, read the full post, “Eating Disorders: All in the Family.” And then please join the discussion below. Have you had a friend or family member attempt to control your eating habits?