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. Reality

    The author was once fat???

    Not according to the photos posted at:


    Or was this "fatness" embellished like so much of the NT was in order to make money??

    February 14, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  2. Shannon

    Thanks, Lysa. Your book has inspired me to find my "want to" and make great strides in my own journey. I appreciate your honesty and vulnerability.

    February 14, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  3. Sophie

    All around GREAT article! I too draw my strength from Jesus Christ and was able to kick the chocolate habit and lose the weight I needed to. And you are so right, nothing taste as good as true peace feels. Good job!

    February 14, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  4. Done

    I quit eating all refined sugars and processed foods for these same reasons in 2001. After an initial period of withdrawal (headaches, mood swings, nearly unbearable cravings), my body adjusted and I never crave sweets now. I don't mind when those around me eat sweets, and I actually take pleasure from smelling them. I have lost my sweet tooth and my weight stabilized. I'm not reporting this in a self congratulatory way...just to let others know that it can be done and actually gets pretty easy after the initial struggle.

    February 14, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  5. John Olsen

    Jesus said, "Life is more than food."

    February 14, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  6. sayingfit

    I was annoyed because I was just called "antisocial" by a 295 lbs guy with sleep apnea (!) because I did not eat the cookies his diabetic wife (type 2) baked for Valentines Day just now, 1 min before I read this!!!!!! So, yes, this article is on the money!

    February 14, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
  7. Elli

    Wonderful article Lysa! I knew today was going to be hard as the boss's wife makes chocolate covered strawberries for the office every year, so I downloaded my daily Made to Crave messages and read them before going into the kitchen!

    February 14, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • MoodyMoody

      Too late now, but maybe the next time, you could ask her to leave you a few strawberries without chocolate. Strawberries are great diet food, and yummy even without chocolate.

      February 14, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
  8. Josie

    Thank you so much for sharing your struggles and how you are overcoming. There are MANY people out there that need to hear this message, even if it doesn't align with their "religious" views. Thank you for being brave enough to put yourself out there knowing not everyone will respond positively. 🙂 Happy Valentine's Day!!

    February 14, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  9. Laurie


    Thank you for the wonderful message on a day that is so hard for people who are consumed and controlled by sugar-what a nice surprise...or should I say, "valentine"? I am posting, "Nothing tastes as good as peace feels" on my refridgerator ASAP! Hope to see you at Hearts at Home soon! Oh, and by the way, I forwarded today's Proverbs 31 Minisitry's devotion on to all my gal pals as my little valentine to them!

    February 14, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  10. Emily B

    It's a risk to put your thoughts and beliefs out there for all kinds of people to read, ponder and ridicule. God Bless the Jesus Girls who lay it all on the line!

    February 14, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  11. suteki

    Awesome! Good luck! Sugar is usually like cra ck for me so I understand feeling you have to cut it out totally.

    February 14, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  12. John

    Finally, a fat person who admits that a lack of willpower is the primary reason for their obesity.

    February 14, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  13. Jeanne

    What a wonderful message, Lysa – You go Jesus Girl!!! My husband bought be chocolates today, (Bless his heart), and I haven't touched them. I'm not suffering and I'm not feeling sorry for myself and I'm not tempted in the least. I can have them if I want them and I know it, but I also know if I have ONE, it will be TWO, then THREE, then I'll be sitting on the couch with the box in my lap!! Thank you, Lysa, for Made to Crave!! Sometimes words just aren't enough, this is one of those times!!

    February 14, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  14. Doc

    I appreciate the article... I have the same struggles with chocolate. Find that my cravings take over my actions and I eat, eat, and eat... then I feel horrible about it. Then since I already spoiled my diet for that day, I'll just continue giving in to poor food choices.

    I wish it didn't have such a religious overtone. It tarnishes her good ideas and turns off those with different beliefs.

    February 14, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  15. Kelly

    LOVE this!! Thanks for putting it out there for one of 'those struggling women' to read - it is for me!

    February 14, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
  16. Suzann Denlinger

    A great reminder for me today as I avoid the Frango Mints my boss brought in for our office! 🙂 Nothing tastes as good as peace feels!

    February 14, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  17. Kelly

    Thank you Lysa.

    February 14, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  18. brandon s

    Why on earth does CNN sanction public expression of religious views that keep this planet locked in darkness and ignorance? Religion is poison no matter how sweet it might taste

    February 14, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • Really, CNN?

      I agree. I thought the article was pretty good until it got to "OH MAGIC SKY MAN...". Completely turned me off to the author.

      February 14, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • LW

      Well, Duh! This column is in the 'Belief blog' section. If that has no interest for you, then skip this whole section of CNN Online. There are plenty of other things to read and comment on.

      February 14, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • TJ

      You do realize that you are reading the "belief" blog right? The web address is religion.blogs.cnn.com so of course it's going to have some sort of religious or belief overtones. If you don't want to be exposed to that then don't read articles that are in the religion section or keep your negative comments about religion to yourself.

      February 14, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Elli

      Then don't read the "Belief" blogs.....

      February 14, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • kathy

      Last time I checked this is America; a place where we can express our points of view of our religious freedom. Sounds like you are the one in the dark and have been poisoned. Why so down on religion? Christians (most of them) are good, kind, caring, giving people just trying to be better even though we fail many times. I'm sorry you appear so hurt and angry. You can have a life free of your hurt, anger and pain. Find a good church that is active in your community and give "religion" a try. I really hope and pray the best for you...that is what my God teaches.

      February 14, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • lego1234

      Actually, this article showed up under "Valentine's Day" articles, not "Belief Blog". I usually do skip the whole Belief section.

      February 14, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • Done

      I'm an atheist but am all for encouraging people to be healthier and happier, regardless of their beliefs. We may not be sisters in Christ, but we can be sisters in conquering sugar addiction. All the best to you, Lysa.

      February 14, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • Karen

      Brandon, you seem so very angry and disillusioned. I'm sorry you and others feel this way but this is America and I sure hope uour freedome of speech is never such that only those who defile religion are the only ones able to voice their opinions and views. This article is under "Belief Blogs". I think Kathy said it the very best. "Last time I checked this is America; a place where we can express our points of view of our religious freedom. Sounds like you are the one in the dark and have been poisoned. Why so down on religion? Christians (most of them) are good, kind, caring, giving people just trying to be better even though we fail many times. I'm sorry you appear so hurt and angry. You can have a life free of your hurt, anger and pain. Find a good church that is active in your community and give "religion" a try. I really hope and pray the best for you...that is what my God teaches". Frankly, I do too.

      February 14, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
    • sayingfit

      yes, it may sound a bit too religious, but "different stroke for different folks". Let's all take a deep breath and a bit more flexible, shall we?

      February 14, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
    • Laura A.

      Dear Brandon,
      I can see where you feel religion is a poison, yes, based on what we see happening in our world in the name of religion. However, I would challenge you to seek Jesus Christ – He has nothing to do with religion, and I guarantee you will see things in a different light.
      There is a great difference between a relationship with a loving and very real God, and religion. God does not keep us in darkness and ignorance.

      February 14, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • tuff

      Hey brandon, if you don't like religion, don't use it in your life. Just because you don't need it doesn't mean other people don't. Or would you just like to take things away from people that you don't agree with? Move to Iraq, you'll be welcome there after you are forced to live by Islamic rule.

      February 14, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
  19. Jeff

    One of the first rules of dieting, and then maintaining the weight, is not to completely give up what you love. Otherwise, you'll fall of the wagon and get back into bad habits. The key is moderation. She says she has an addiction, and that's fine for her case and I have no right to dispute it, but for most people, they just need to police themselves.

    February 14, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • MoodyMoody

      That's not always true. In general, you're right. However, for some people, specific foods are like the drug of choice for an addict. There's no self-control. For Ms. TerKeust, sweets and especially chocolate are trigger foods. For me, it's Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I haven't touched them in three years because one doughnut for me will become half a dozen. I don't say to myself, "I can't have doughnuts again ever." I say, "I'm afraid of doughnuts and I choose not to eat the first one."

      February 14, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Greg

      I read once that guys have an easier time at losing weight than women do because they don't go cold turkey. Though apparently there were a lot of other reasons too, so its hard to tell.

      I lost 30 pounds(im short so that is a lot) and have kept it off for 4 years now. I always rewarded myself in moderation.

      February 14, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Fuyuko

      I agree with your statement- for me. I think it is not what you eat, but how much you eat which causes problems.

      February 14, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • MoodyMoody

      For other foods, including sweets, I haven't gone cold turkey. I can stop at one chocolate chip cookie. If I could stop at one doughnut, I'd have one once in a while. I can't do that, so I'm better off not having the first one. I've kept off 60 pounds over that three year period. It works for me.

      February 14, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
  20. Sharon S.

    Lysa: Thanks for sharing your heart so openly and His Truth so unwaveringly. Daily dependence on God.
    Thank you for allowing God to use you in comfortable and uncomfortable places.

    Love you!

    February 14, 2011 at 3:56 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.