It’s a little nuts.
Rijene Stinson, a 39-year-old mother of four, counts carbs and limits her sugar intake to no more than 10 grams a day. She mostly avoids bread and anything high in sodium. Instead, she eats almonds. Lots and lots of almonds.
“I’m an ‘almond mom‘ and I don’t find it to be a negative thing,” Stinson, a small business owner based in San Francisco, Calif., told The Post. “I have boxes of almonds that I eat all day. I eat them with slices of apples. I make my own almond milk. They’re a healthy alternative.”
The hashtag #AlmondMom has gone viral in recent weeks, with over 7.2 million views on TikTok. The phrase is being used by millennials and Gen Zers to pejoratively describe mothers who developed extremely restrictive eating habits during the diet-culture mania of the 1980s and ‘90s and foisted them onto their children. Veteran model and ex-“Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Yolanda Hadid, 58, is the unwitting villain of the “almond mom” movement.
Freshly exhumed series footage from 2014 shows the former Bravo-lebrity advising a then-teenage Gigi Hadid to counteract feeling “really weak” by eating a couple of almonds and chewing them really carefully. In separate clips from the show, Yolanda — who is also the mother of model Bella Hadid, 26 — repeatedly drills into Gigi, now 27 and a supermodel, the importance of sticking to her extremely strict diet.
As such, the moniker “Almond Mom” is hardly a positive one, and young women online are reflecting on the negative effect their own mothers’ restrictive eating and fad dieting had on them, sharing stories of eating disorders and body dysmorphia. But Stinson sees no shame in the label.
Her devotion to the nut has helped her shed more than 70 pounds.
“In 2020, when the pandemic hit, I was eating takeout all the time, and I had ballooned into a version of myself that I didn’t like,” she confessed. “I was 272 pounds, but now I’m 200 pounds, and it’s because I made the almond mom change in my diet.”
Despite her passion for almonds, Stinson wasn’t aware of the the hashtag #AlmondMom until her 15-year-old daughter, Aaniyah-Debra, recently called her one. Teaching healthy eating habits to her children, who range in age from 12 to 21, is a priority.
“I don’t restrict my kids from having certain foods,” she said. “But I do encourage them to eat a lot of vegetables like broccoli, carrots and Brussel sprouts.”
She’s recently implemented “salad nights” in her house a few times a week, serving heaps of lettuce as the main course, but allowing the kids to choose whatever salad topping they want, as well as enjoy a slice of garlic bread.
Stinson admits that she was also raised by an almond mom — albeit one who was more about alfalfa sprouts than nuts — and developed an unhealthy relationship with food as a result.
“Until I was 15, I wasn’t allowed to have sugar. When my friends were eating burritos, I was eating carrot sticks,” she said, noting that she also was not allowed meat, dairy or too many carbs.
With her own brood, she’s trying to focus less on limiting certain foods and more on incorporating as many greens as possible into family dinners.
Her three sons and one daughter are free to enjoy indulgent snacks and meals without judgement, ridicule or constant reminders from Stinson that their food choices could make them fat.
“For me, being an almond mom isn’t about being [skinny], it’s about being healthy and teaching my kids how to eat with balance,” she said. “I want them to be cautious and continuous about what they’re putting in their bodies.”