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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. Sherri

    Great article, Lysa! Thanks for stepping out on faith!

    February 14, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  2. Ginger Kid

    I found this article very helpful. I am an atheist, but I found the wisdom very appealing. I had a moment of self-pity recently and needed to read this today. She is right, I would never let anyone else call me the names I call myself. I recently gave up sugar and refined carbohydrates and switched to nutritiously dense foods. this has been hard and there have been several times when I have felt like it isn't worth it, but still I endure. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and I will remember this quote "nothing tastes as good as peace feels.

    February 14, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Krem

      Ginger, I highly recommend getting the book Made to Crave. It is truly helpful. I also recently gave up sugar and refined carbs. I'm a bit cranky sometimes, but am glad that I am now on a path to being healthier.

      February 14, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  3. Angie

    Thank You Lysa! It's always nice to hear words of encouragement rather than the hatred that is all over the internet these days.

    February 14, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  4. Anne

    Thank you Lysa. Thanks for sticking your neck out knowing full well that not everyone would take what you had to say with the same spirit that it was offered. I just bought your book and I appreciate your honesty and candor when it comes to struggles with weight. Let the yucky comments roll off your back. You are loved and appreciated. Happy Valentines Day!

    February 14, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  5. Lindsay

    Thanks sweet jane, I am going to start tomorrow, and yes your comment helps ALOT 😉

    February 14, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • sweet jane

      You are welcome.Anytime a can help rid the world of fat pigs I am eager to help.

      February 14, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  6. CJ

    I just want to tell you...you are right on both counts, faith and food. I'm a 6'7" man who once was 300lbs. I have lost 27 lbs since I decided to take care of my "temple". I cut out ALL sweets cold turkey a couple of months ago and I haven't missed them. (I also cut my caloric content by 40%.) My "first" goal weight is 250...only 23 lbs to go...2nd goal is 225. My faith in Jesus has given me great strength to exercise self-control, which is a fruit of the Spirit. Thanks again for sharing!

    February 14, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  7. What's Wrong with you people?

    There are so many unhappy people around these days.

    So what if you don't agree with this lady's beliefs, did she do anything other than write a kind article on a day that can be tough on some people?

    Some of you are just miserable people. You fail at life and feel the need to anonymously say things to people on the internet to feel better about yourselves. Most of you wouldn't have the guts to say these things to an actual person.

    Get over yourselves. Just because you put your faith in other things doesn't make you more right or better that this lady and her beliefs.

    Hate and bitterness do much more damage to our country than hypocritical Christians.

    February 14, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  8. Debbie

    Oh Lysa, your words are like balm to a heart hurting from addiction to food. Thank you for speaking the truth.

    February 14, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  9. Phillip

    What a total waste of space and my time.

    February 14, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  10. DonR

    Yes there is some "food for thought" However, what a great shot of lips with candy coating, wish it was in better resolution!

    February 14, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  11. Baker

    Going from "I'm a fatty who's giving up chocolate." to "God wants me to be a good Christian." is a leap in faith and reasoning that just doesn't make sense. Unless you are implying Satan created chocolate? This article makes no sense and is pointless. I wish I hadn't wasted my time on it.

    February 14, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  12. John

    Lysa, love your video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stsFd7Pv5jw

    February 14, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  13. Edie Kile

    I just want to say that you motivate me to look deeper. In realizing who I truly am then I can accomplish what I was created to be. I am a Jesus girl, and I have an exciting future that does not stop here. You just keep on helping us. Thank you – Edie

    February 14, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  14. Fuyko

    I kind of wish this weren't the top valentines' story on CNN. I feel a bit baraged by diet messages in the media.

    February 14, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • Julie

      I'm THANKFUL this is a top Valentine's Day story!! How appropriate for a day where some consider it a license to indulge in all sorts of things that someone shows us how we can have RESTRAINT (and enjoy it).

      February 14, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  15. Caroline

    " Nothing tastes as good as peace feels" – That's awful similar to the twisted maxim of pro-anorexia groups: "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels." Inneresting

    February 14, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • Patricia

      I noticed that – blatant plagiarism disguised as paraphrasing.

      February 14, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • Cheryl

      (Blank stare indicating a stunned confusion about the ass-backwards connections people make.)

      February 14, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • Jake

      Don't you mean...thiiiinteresting? Haha

      February 14, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • Caroline

      I don't know if it's so ass backwards, they seem kind of related to me!
      I guess because they are both examples of groups enforcing their desires to be thin with a mantra?
      The only difference is one associates with the mental effects and one focuses on the physical.

      February 14, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • What's Wrong with you people?

      You suck at life.

      February 14, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Lindsay

      No heart attacks or health problems because of healthy eating seems pretty peaceful to me............

      February 14, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  16. Patricia

    The saying "there is no such thing as an ex-addict" applies when people simply stop what they're doing rather than deal with the underlying emotional or psychological problems. This was highlighted in a People magazine article that interviewed people who had gastric-bypass surgery. Since they could no longer get the "high" from eating, they felt empty and lost. With no real tools to deal with their addictions, they all became addicted to other things: one became a smoker, one a shopaholic, one an alcoholic, and one a gambler. Her problem is addicton. She needs to deal with the addiction rather than blaming her taste buds. Otherwise, she will relapse – guaranteed.

    February 14, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • Krem

      Please let me know what month that article appeared in People magazine. I would like to share that with someone I know who is beginning on a bad path after her surgery.

      February 14, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
  17. Tara

    Thank you for the encouragement Lysa! I loved the idea of putting post-its with encouraging words over the scale numbers. Such a neat way to remind ourselves that it is our health and not the number that matters. Great article.

    February 14, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  18. Robin

    Amen Lisa Thanks for the encouragment and the reminder.

    February 14, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  19. Marcie

    Lysa!

    You are a Jesus Girl Rock Star (solid Rock that is...), and an encouragement to all of us who are struggling to get on track with our eating.

    Keep speaking the truth for it is just that and don't let anyone else convince you otherwise.

    And remember, the rest of us Jesus girls are behind you all the way.

    Happy Valentines Day!

    Marcie Joy Brown

    P.S. Looking forward to tonight's webcast...

    February 14, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
  20. Mike

    Why does every article on CNN about breaking habits has to have some faith based reason? Seriously? I stopped eating lots of food because I wanted to feel better, get in shape, and be healthy. You don't need god to stop eating chocolate. Give me a freaking break.

    February 14, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • Robin

      No you dont Need God to stop. But for those of us who do need Him he's right there to help us in our time of trouble.

      February 14, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • Patricia

      .. I agree.. I don't see the logic ..

      February 14, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • NL

      Robin-
      I think that the point is whatever you use to motivate yourself it's still you doing all the work, right?

      February 14, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Fuyko

      I am sort of anti-giving up something you like entirely. I think that will just lead to backsliding. Choose moderation instead.

      February 14, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • Sara

      Sometime God is the only one you can count on. She's just telling us what helped her. Good for you to be able to without him.

      February 14, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • NL

      OK, but is God actually doing anything to help except being there to act as inspiration? If not, then isn't the key simply to find something that inspires you towards weight loss, or any goal for that matter?

      February 14, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
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About this blog

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.