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February 14th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

My faith: When the fat girl kissed sweets goodbye

Editor's Note: Lysa TerKeurst is a woman who has finally found peace in her food and weight struggles after a 17-year battle. She wrote about her personal journey in her New York Times bestselling book, "Made to Crave."

By Lysa TerKeurst, Special to CNN

It’s estimated that Americans will spend approximately $1 billion on chocolate this Valentine’s season. But this year I won’t be contributing to this number. Sorry Hershey, for now I’ve kissed sweets goodbye. And yes, I know there are health benefits from dark chocolate, but I’ll be getting my flavonoids from green tea, fruits and veggies this year.

Why? Because on this day of love, I have decided the best gift I can give myself and my family is a healthy life, a healthy wife, and a healthy mom. And eating sweets isn’t healthy for me in this season of my life. It sends me into a spiral of unhealthy food choices.

Surprisingly, making this choice in the name of love has helped me get past the old feelings of having a pity party while the rest of America lives it up chocolate style.

I’m not feeling deprived. Because of my faith I’m feeling empowered to make this choice and it feels great.

Am I writing this to call all people to avoid sweets in the name of love?

No, I’m writing to those who are struggling with their weight and ready to go sit in the bathroom stall at work and cry today. Valentine's is a hard day for those of us whose New Year’s resolutions have left our taste buds screaming for a reprieve - a break from all the healthy sacrifices. And certainly, if you can eat one piece of chocolate and return back to healthy choices, great.

At one time, I couldn’t do that. One piece led to ten led to twenty which led to an all out reversal of pursuing healthy choices.

One of my most raw, weak places for years was my inability to find peace with my eating struggles. I hated that this had to be my issue. I hated that I didn’t seem to have the self-control other women so effortlessly exhibited. I hated that I constantly bounced from feeling deprived to feeling guilty with my food choices.

And I don’t flippantly use the word hate.

It’s reserved for the most brutal of struggles and self-loathing, which this most certainly was.

I want to share three things that have helped me if your weak place is a food struggle.

1. You are more than a sum total of your taste buds. Remind yourself when you think you want that unhealthy food option that only your taste buds want that. Your heart doesn’t crave that candy bar. Your arms don’t desire those french fries. Your brain doesn’t need those chips. Your hiney doesn’t want that cheesecake.

Only your taste buds want that. So let your arms, brain, heart, hiney, and the whole of who you are boss your taste buds around.

2. Nothing tastes as good as peace feels. As a Christian I believe God made us to walk in His peace. You were made to consume food but food was never supposed to consume you. Of all the things Jesus provided for us, peace was first on His list!

“Peace I leave you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid,” (John 14: 26-27).

Ask yourself, “Is this food option going to add to my peace or take away from it? Is an indulgence in a holiday of sweets going to trouble my heart in retrospect? Remind yourself when facing each food choice, “nothing tastes as good as peace feels!”

3. The scale can measure your physical weight but never your worth as a person. Do you know that? I mean do you know it the second you step on that scale and start calling yourself names you’d never let other people call you?

Here’s a little activity I want you to do this week. Go get some sticky notes. Write these words on them: beautiful, courageous, able and victorious.

Now, put these notes over the numbers on your scale and for the next five days, receive only the truth when you step on that scale.

For this week measure your progress by asking yourself these questions: Did I make healthy choices with my food this week? Did I eat for comfort instead of eating for nourishment?

Did I exercise my body and celebrate being able to do so?

If the answers are yes, I don’t need the scale to affirm that this week.

So, on this day of candy and chocolate, I’ll be celebrating with flowers and love notes. And for those of you doing the same, I pray these three whispers of truth breathe strength into a very raw, hard, and sometimes seemingly impossible struggle. Trust me, victory is possible.

Let love and grace and truth lead you to this place.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Lysa TerKeurst.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Food • Opinion

soundoff (386 Responses)
  1. Stephanie

    I am going on a month and a half of giving up sweets. When I started out, I thought I would feel deprived but as I learned quickly in "Made to Crave," instead I feel empowered. I celebrated my 42nd birthday this past weekend and although others were coaxing me to have cake just this one time...I didn't. Nor will I be eating sweets for Valentine's Day today. It's such an incredibly freeing thing!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:04 am |
  2. Chubby for Years

    Taming the taste buds one day at a time and eating for nourishment rather than comfort!

    Lysa addresses an issue I have struggled with for years, and I'm obviously not alone. Congrats on the #1 NY Times Best Seller!

    -12 and counting!!!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:04 am |
  3. Tami

    Lysa, Thanks for the encouragement. I started reading your book last week. After three days of no sweets I feel like a new person!! Tami

    February 14, 2011 at 9:03 am |
  4. Susan

    Thank you for addressing this topic – so many women (and probably men) face the same battle you have faced but have not found the peace to which you refer. And thank you for being willing to lead us to this peace.

    February 14, 2011 at 9:00 am |
  5. Debi

    I am so enjoying your broadcasts and your book. I struggle with sugar addiction and can't seem to get to the root of the issue. I am inspired to go sugar-free after today because of your journey. I am scared that I am going to feel too deprived, but then I will pray and see if I can make it through the hard times. I know the first few days are the hardest. Thank you for your inspirational story!

    February 14, 2011 at 8:59 am |
    • Ashu

      Jen?! Like, THE Jen??? jen, I saw your crckwaekes through craftlit podcast shownotes. Chris and I looked it over and laughed and laughed a few days ago. thanks for being there for Abby. I was soooo upset when I heard about James. How are they doing? I am grieving,Laura Ricketts

      March 2, 2012 at 2:27 am |
  6. S

    Almost finished with Made to Crave and have loved it. Such a personal and wonderful message. Thank you!

    February 14, 2011 at 8:58 am |
  7. Judy

    Great message Lysa. Thank you for sharing your struggles in Made to Crave. You are right that it doesn't just apply to eating struggles. The principals can be applied to many areas of our lives. You are veryencouraging to me and my friends.

    February 14, 2011 at 8:56 am |
  8. Teresa

    Thank you Lysa! Oh, how he loves us so! He loves us so much that he cares about EVERY aspect of our life. Food is my struggle and I thank you for reminding me that he loves me and he cares about every struggle I encounter. I believe that this journey will lead me ever closer to my Father and if I lose weight doing it, to him all the glory. But, the getting closer will always be what my heart, mind and body needs. Thank you again!

    February 14, 2011 at 8:55 am |
  9. Katie

    Thanks for the reminders Lysa. That are great things to hear over and over again from others and from ourselves. I am one of those people who has a sugary treat and then the healthy eating plan goes out the window becuase i begin to crave sugar. UGH! BUT with GOD ALL things are possible 😀

    February 14, 2011 at 8:55 am |
  10. janellrardon

    Weight. Just saying the word makes my shoulders shrug a bit. It's a heavy word, isn't it? Thank you, Lysa, for being so honest about your "weight" struggle. You don't have to share your struggles, you are opening your heart and letting us in so we can find courage and strength to address those things in our life that "weigh" us down. Keep sharing. Don't let anything or anyone stop you. We are all gaining momentum and finding a great new life of freedom!!!! Blessings, Janell

    February 14, 2011 at 8:54 am |
  11. Connie Pilston Shoemaker

    Great Job Lesa at condensing the crux of the matter into this brief editorial.

    @David – I've read her book and the point she makes is that "if food is consuming you" whatever is consuming you beside Jesus can be overcome. Lysa's issue was with food. Other people whose lives have been changed, have had other issues, like smoking, binging and purging. The underlying theme in her message I believe is we were made for more and that nothing should consume us, but our craving toward Christ.

    As for the "southern ladies", the exterior is often not a good indicator of what's going on inside. I have a lovely friend who is tiny but in private she see's herself as fat and for 20 years has been anorexic. Not everything can be taken at face value.

    Personally I can stop at one piece of chocolate, so the Ghirardelli's Dark Chocolate w/ Carmel Squares my hubby left me this morning will last till Easter! But cooks some pizza or pasta and look out, I am all over it...so I am learning that I was made for more than letting the tastebuds rule!

    Blessings Lesa!

    February 14, 2011 at 8:54 am |
    • Teresa

      Wonderful Connie!

      February 14, 2011 at 8:58 am |
  12. Nikki

    Amazing! I'm going to be one of those in the bathroom crying and calling out to Jesus today because I don't want this bondage relationship with food anymore! Thanks so much Lysa!
    Nikki 🙂

    February 14, 2011 at 8:54 am |
    • Joy in VA

      You can do it, Nikki!
      "It is finished!" Go step into the victory that's already been provided for you. <3

      February 14, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  13. Cary Wood

    Great article. Love your work. Keep it up. Glory to God!!!

    February 14, 2011 at 8:50 am |
  14. Mandi A.

    Starting the Made to Crave bible study this week! Can't wait.

    February 14, 2011 at 8:49 am |
  15. Katie

    Great message once again, Lysa =)

    February 14, 2011 at 8:44 am |
  16. Rebecca

    Wonderful message full of wonderful truths! I am beautiful, courageous, able and victorious! WhooHoo!

    Prayers and blessings,
    Rebecca

    February 14, 2011 at 8:42 am |
  17. David Johnson

    Lysa TerKeurst said: "As a Christian I believe God made us to walk in His peace. You were made to consume food but food was never supposed to consume you. Of all the things Jesus provided for us, peace was first on His list!"

    Hmmm... I see a lot of Bible Belt Southern Belles who are obese and seem to be at peace. You never have to call them twice for bread and wine. Often they will ask for seconds...

    People who have been fat and have managed to reduce are usually always a tad preachy. And they usually always gain the weight back.

    Cheers!

    February 14, 2011 at 8:40 am |
    • Robin

      Just keep in mind that things are not always what they seem. Some larger ladies may be perfectly content with who they are and how they look, but speaking as a woman who is often told that I LOOK perfectly at peace with myself, it's easy to hide those secrets from the world. If someone took 5 minutes to ask me if I felt at peace with myself, they would quickly learn that it's been a struggle for me since I was 7 years old. So before you are so quick to criticize, maybe you need to take a deeper look below the surface of those you're speaking of and ask yourself if they really are at peace, or if they're just trying to look that way for your sake.

      Great article Lysa!

      February 14, 2011 at 8:59 am |
    • CPonder

      David – Have you ever asked one of those ladies you think are at peace if they really are. I was over weight for a very long time and people thought I was at peace with it and I tried my best to make it seem that way. But deep down inside I was far from at peace!

      Really instead of criticizing you should encourage those that have lost weight to help them keep it off.

      February 14, 2011 at 9:11 am |
    • Danielle Jones

      David,

      Instead of jumping on the band wagon that they will gain it back anyway, give them support and encouragement. You never know when you will need it in your own life and whose going to give it to you?

      I pray that someone comes into your life and begins speaking truth and life to you, because once they do, you will realize your catch more bees with honey than vinegar. You should praise those that have lost the weight and are fighting a battle that isn't an easy one.

      February 14, 2011 at 9:21 am |
    • David Johnson

      @To all

      I don't have a lot of sympathy for fat girls. If you aren't happy, stop eating. Forget glandular conditions, genetics, big bones, depression or whatever. You are overweight because you stuff food into your mouth.

      Eating is the problem. Perhaps a regimen of eat and purge...? A pretty, thin girl sticking her fingers down her throat, isn't all that disgusting.
      So, going from Yuck to Yum is in your hands...or fingers. No expensive gym memberships, potions, videos, or personal trainer needed. No need to thank me. If I can give the world one more cute skinny girl, I have my thanks!

      Disgust is a relative term, highly dependent on how cute the girl. – just my opinion.

      Good Luck!

      February 14, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  18. Jennifer in VA

    Great message Lysa – once again, I'm going to be examining where in my life I can apply these lessons. Food is not my struggle but I have others – looking apply God's always applicable truth in MY life!

    Hoping to see you in VA in March! I'll bring you brownies! 🙂 edge or middle?

    February 14, 2011 at 8:30 am |
  19. pam

    Nothing tastes as good as peace feels! Ahhhhh.....

    February 14, 2011 at 8:15 am |
  20. juliepotter123

    Companies do give out samples. They are looking to put their products in potential consumers' hands. They wouldn't do it if it didn't work one of the place that always worked is "123 Get Samples" search online

    February 14, 2011 at 6:20 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.