10 tips on how to feed your children, and yourself

i know what you’re thinking… who feeds their kid cheesies? on the bed? on white sheets? and cupcakes? at bedtime, really?

i do. i allow my kids to eat “junk” food sometimes, because i never want food to rule my life like it once did. i never want my eating disorder (anorexia) to interfere with how i love on my children.

i do struggle with portion size. i do hate cooking. i do find it hard to feed my boys vegetables but i’m all for nutrition and health and gardening. i’m all for having the kids pull ripe red raspberries off bushes and stuff their mouths full of strawberries from the patch and pick peas in abundance, and i’m also for cupcakes and cheesies once in awhile.

i want food to be put in its place, in my family. i want it to be a unifier, not a divider. i want it to be celebrated, not feared. and i never want it to become a scapegoat for something deeper.

so this means i have to watch myself. i have to watch how i treat food, because my kids are watching, too.

i’ve learned, especially since having children, that my body is an amazing organism that i need to care for in the kindest, most loving, most gentle of ways. this summer, at young life camp, i had the honor of leading two body image seminars for teenage girls, and during those seminars i confessed how i stand in front of the mirror and tell myself “you are beautiful”. and if i start to criticize a part of my body i turn right around and i counter it with “no, i love you, legs, for the way you carry me during the day,” or “i love you arms. thank you for holding my babies.”

so i want to share these tips with you. tips that have allowed me to have a relationship with my body, and with food, versus treating them like objects.

i’ve copied them with permission from the brilliant authors of Intuitive Eating… and i hope they change your life like they’ve changed mine.

10 Principles

1. Reject the Diet Mentality
Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently. Get angry at the lies that have led you to feel as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you gained back all of the weight. If you allow even one small hope to linger that a new and better diet might be lurking around the corner, it will prevent you from being free to rediscover Intuitive Eating.

2. Honor Your Hunger
Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Otherwise you can trigger a primal drive to overeat. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant. Learning to honor this first biological signal sets the stage for re-building trust with yourself and food.

3. Make Peace with Food
Call a truce, stop the food fight! Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. If you tell yourself that you can’t or shouldn’t have a particular food, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that build into uncontrollable cravings and, often, bingeing When you finally “give-in” to your forbidden food, eating will be experienced with such intensity, it usually results in Last Supper overeating, and overwhelming guilt.

4. Challenge the Food Police
Scream a loud “NO” to thoughts in your head that declare you’re “good” for eating minimal calories or “bad” because you ate a piece of chocolate cake. The Food Police monitor the unreasonable rules that dieting has created . The police station is housed deep in your psyche, and its loud speaker shouts negative barbs, hopeless phrases, and guilt-provoking indictments. Chasing the Food Police away is a critical step in returning to Intuitive Eating.

5. Respect Your Fullness
Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that show that you’re comfortably full. Pause in the middle of a meal or food and ask yourself how the food tastes, and what is your current fullness level?

6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
The Japanese have the wisdom to promote pleasure as one of their goals of healthy living In our fury to be thin and healthy, we often overlook one of the most basic gifts of existence–the pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience. When you eat what you really want, in an environment that is inviting and conducive, the pleasure you derive will be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content. By providing this experience for yourself, you will find that it takes much less food to decide you’ve had “enough”.

7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food Find ways to comfort , nurture, distract, and resolve your issues without using food. Anxiety, loneliness, boredom, anger are emotions we all experience throughout life. Each has its own trigger, and each has its own appeasement. Food won’t fix any of these feelings. It may comfort for the short term, distract from the pain, or even numb you into a food hangover. But food won’t solve the problem. If anything, eating for an emotional hunger will only make you feel worse in the long run. You’ll ultimately have to deal with the source of the emotion, as well as the discomfort of overeating.

8. Respect Your Body
Accept your genetic blueprint. Just as a person with a shoe size of eight would not expect to realistically squeeze into a size six, it is equally as futile (and uncomfortable) to have the same expectation with body size. But mostly, respect your body, so you can feel better about who you are. It’s hard to reject the diet mentality if you are unrealistic and overly critical about your body shape.

9. Exercise–Feel the Difference
Forget militant exercise. Just get active and feel the difference. Shift your focus to how it feels to move your body, rather than the calorie burning effect of exercise. If you focus on how you feel from working out, such as energized, it can make the difference between rolling out of bed for a brisk morning walk or hitting the snooze alarm. If when you wake up, your only goal is to lose weight, it’s usually not a motivating factor in that moment of time.

10. Honor Your Health–Gentle Nutrition
Make food choices that honor your health and tastebuds while making you feel well. Remember that you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. You will not suddenly get a nutrient deficiency or gain weight from one snack, one meal, or one day of eating. It’s what you eat consistently over time that matters, progress not perfection is what counts.

Making It Home


  1. real and practical. love it.
    (and i am with you on the “junk” food thing . . .)

    • thank you friend. love walking this journey with you…

  2. Emily, this is such good information! I’m sharing it on Facebook. I’ve love keeping up with you this summer as I read your posts.

    • oh elizabeth thank you friend! you are such an encouragement to me. xo

  3. AMEN, Emily! I never developed a full-on eating disorder, but I am the daughter of a chronic dieter, who was/is never happy with her body. Oh the messages I absorbed. Now I am where she was in her 30’s – overweight, and yes, when I am with her I wonder if she sees ugly in her own baby girl. I never, ever want my children to wonder that. We don’t diet around here. We practice moderation, but we’re never going to use food as punishment, reward, sacrifice, salvation.

    Loved these tips – love the Cheetoh fingers, LOVE your early wisdom, my dear friend! You in your skinny body, me in my large one – someone we have stumbled on to a similar truth. Ain’t life grand???

    • oh friend. how i love you, and that we can walk this journey in our physical and spiritual bodies and learn how to be comfortable in it all. xoxo

  4. My daughter did a research project and documentary on anorexia in young girls (she herself was 12 at the time). The knowledge she gained through that project has protected her as she’s pursued ballet (an art renowned for unhealthy body image). She’s nearly 18 and has a healthy perspective of herself and food. We did have a stretch of time where she didn’t eat pork, another when she gave up meat altogether, but I engaged her all along those seasons in positive ways. You’re right to help educate others, to empower them with your story and ideas of how to approach themselves and food in a healthy way. I’m thrilled she likes healthy stuff like quinoa and equally happy to make truffles with her. My friends who’ve battled disordered eating have had to grow into enjoying to cook, to deal with it creatively and with the goal of nourishing and satisfying their families — I think this is part of the re-learning curve. Bless you, friend, as you tell your story — it matters.

    • thank you alyssa. what an incredible and inspiring story. i am so empowered by your daughter, and by your relationship with her. i’ve always been afraid of having a daughter, but you’ve made me believe it could be a truly positive and beautiful experience. thank you.

  5. Emily,
    I love practical. Therefore, I love this post. 10 good reminders for us and for our family. Thanks for your dedication.

  6. ps love the new header. you guys are sweet.

  7. I cried reading this. The kind of cry where my eyes well up and my heart swells. Because, I get this. And I subscribe to these “tips”…thank God that I found them through His leading me. I just never listed them like your resource did. In the past year they just came to me. And with that, peace.

    This perspective is life changing. And I know it so well. It’s important stuff you’re speaking and sharing. And your story…for such purpose.

    Praise God for the faith He built up in you to trust in your story’s purpose. Praise God.

    Blessings, friend. Always. Rich. and Sweet.

    • oh amy. may you know God’s warm and loving touch on your life, on everything that you do. you have such a beautiful heart. thank you for sharing this here, and for encouraging me.

  8. Excellent post, Em. I have learned that we are in an ongoing relationship with food as it sustains us. True analogy for the relationship that also sustains us. There is such freedom in truth, bondage in lies that distort both freedom and truth. He liberates us. Beautiful share. You have been liberated and are enjoying the freedom of truth. I am sharing!

    • “we are in an ongoing relationship with food as it sustains us”… LOVE this dawn. xo

  9. Bless you and thank you. I worried about weight all through the years when I was slim — not slim enough. I gave birth (with difficulty) to 2 children, and gained more weight with each child. I’ve packed on 65 pounds in the 27 years I’ve been married. I’m tired of “trying”. So lately I’ve been focusing on exercise because it makes me feel better. Eating what I want instead of what I “should”. I don’t think any pounds are gone, but I know my attitude is improving and ultimately that’s what counts. Thank you!

    • i totally agree with you melanie. i try to eat what i want too, when i want it, and i go for a run every day. and not only does it allow me to get some personal space and pray, but it makes me feel energized and good about myself. i am inspired by your perspective and your heart!

  10. Yesterday we were talking about how skinny Miles is, typical bony little boy. Drake said, “I thought I was the skinniest”, we laughed and said no. He then said, “that means I’m fat”. My 7 year old, cancer surviving son, said he was fat. It made me sick to think that it was my fault for constantly calling myself fat in front of the boys, counting calories in front of them and obsessing over what I eat. It doesn’t just affect your daughters, my poor self-image is affecting my sons. Thanks for the advice Em, the timing is perfect.

    • i so appreciate your honesty, and your life, dear amanda. thank you for sharing this with me. praying for wisdom for all us mothers …

  11. I am always on a diet, but emotional eating has kept me from being too successful. Thank you for sharing these tips. I never want my children to have unhealthy opinions about food.

    • you are so self-aware, friend. i appreciate that. and you. and your heart for your children.

  12. Standing on my kitchen table. I salute you with my breakfast ice cream spoon! :) xoxo

  13. As someone who has also struggled with anorexia and intentionally seeks to daily walk in freedom, I wholeheartedly agree with your “tips”! A big resounding AMEN.

    • rejoicing with you over health and healing, friend! love e.

  14. As someone who has also struggled with anorexia and intentionally seeks to daily walk in freedom, I wholeheartedly agree with your “tips”! A big resounding AMEN.

  15. As someone who has also struggled with anorexia and intentionally seeks to daily walk in freedom, I wholeheartedly agree with your “tips”! A big resounding AMEN.

  16. THIS is delicious!
    pure, raw, generous wisdom
    and goodness
    and I’m getting ready to serve it up
    to some of my lovies.
    BIG happy thanks for this wonderful write,

  17. Amen! This is a wonderful post, Emily. Thank you for sharing this. Isn’t it amazing how our children make us think philosophically about things? 😉 I am all over this post and all it’s common-sense wisdom.

    • oh yay! thank you friend! i know, i love the practicality and applicability of the intuitive eating tips. bless you!!

  18. Emily, I have been reading your blog for awhile now. Please never spot writing–your words are always such an encouragement. I have struggled with an eating dis and graduated from Mercy Ministries several years ago…walking out freedom is a daily battle, but worth it. The hope and future…marriage and babies is a scary thing, so much control lacking, a life that is no longer yours. But I suppose that is sanctification. I am encouraged by this…and hopeful for the future! Thanks for being real, always. I am better from reading your words!

    • oh courtney. i am so very glad to meet you friend. now i can pray for you by name. it’s so hard, this healing journey, yet so redemptive and beautiful and holy too. so much love. e.

  19. Emily, thank you so much for sharing both these tips and your thoughts. I love what you wrote about thanking your different body parts for things. I need to start doing that. The tips are extremely helpful – I think I need to print these off and read them often. Thanks again. Love!

  20. I love this post. You are a wise woman. I admire you so!

    • this means so much to me, willow. thank you. bless you.


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