Drawing upon my mother’s yang sheng (life nurturing) practices through food consumption as an autoethnographic ‘vignette’, the paper seeks to tease out different layers of socio-cultural meanings, underpinning a left behind ageing mother's changing diet. It brings to light the underlying gendered embodiment of food practices articulated through changing family relations (i.e. left behind mother - absent son). This is of particular salience within the context in which issues of ageing and care for older family members have become a major public concern in contemporary China. The paper highlights the relational accounts of food practices as care, imbued with shifting personal relations within the family, which are intertwined with social and historical transformations. In particular, it develops some critical insights on food practices that are beyond an individual's reflection on self-responsibility for health. Thus, it illustrates how intergenerational family care and love are facilitated through the negotiation with everyday materiality and its practices in China.