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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. Emily

    Lysa, thanks for inspiring and sharing the truth with us! You've been such a blessing to me!

    February 15, 2011 at 10:44 am |
  2. dogs rule

    Oh, for crying out loud! An occasional candy bar or ice cream cone never killed anyone. It's the people who pig out that have a problem. Moderation in alll things.... What would life be without cheesecake or a piece of Valentine's chocolate?

    February 15, 2011 at 9:56 am |
    • Casey

      What would life be without a relationship with God? I'll take God over cheesecake or chocolate any day.

      February 15, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  3. Frank

    Lysa, even though I'm not a religious person, I admire anyone who stands by their faith like you do. May you always have that fire.

    February 15, 2011 at 8:09 am |
  4. kendra cameron jarvis@www.abusywomanslife.com

    Lysa,

    Thank you for sharing your heart with us. Your struggles are so familiar to many who will read this article today. Thank you for being courageous enough and bold enough to step out in faith and tell the whole world about your weakness and the God who saves. No matter what negative, ugly things Satan spews out of people's mouths here today, know in your heart that you walk with the Almighty God and you are being obedient to His will. Your words are not in vain. They will be a lifeline to one sinking soul. I thank God for you today.
    Blessings,
    Kendra
    http://www.abusywomanslife.com

    February 15, 2011 at 5:54 am |
  5. LaurieB

    Lysa, thank you for being the spokesperson to say, our God is able, has the infinite power to turn any addiction or craving into our benefit for His glory if we will only seek Him first. Amazing strides, everlasting strides are being made by our Made to Crave bible study as other Jesus girls are learning to walk in victory in Jesus' Name.

    February 15, 2011 at 1:46 am |
  6. Maria

    Nothing tastes as good as THIN.

    February 15, 2011 at 12:22 am |
  7. CharityShantell

    What I love about this article is that it is profound, complex and verbose, but the simple overriding points are clear, relevant and memorable. I love this writing style! And this message is JUST what women need to hear today. Thank you for publishing this!

    February 15, 2011 at 12:05 am |
  8. Leslie Ward

    Lysa, thank you for being obedient to your calling. Lives are being changed in mighty ways.

    February 15, 2011 at 12:04 am |
  9. Nan Jones

    Thank you for your encouraging words and practical advice. Your transparency means a lot.

    February 14, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  10. E Johnson

    "nothing tastes as good as peace feels"!!! I love it! Thank you for that thought.

    February 14, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • dogs rule

      Sure it does! Hot fudge sundaes for one!

      February 15, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  11. Still struggling

    Thank you Lysa for getting to the heart of the matter! I figured out that food was my issue a couple of years ago. I KNEW in my heart it was deeper than just going on another "diet". I didn't know how to go about making the necessary changes and now I do! It's time to just do it!

    February 14, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
  12. Patti

    Lysa, Your words are always so encouraging to me. Thank you for you willingness to be vunerable and share your heart.

    February 14, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
  13. Ray B

    Help me out. I ordered flowers for my Valentine last week to be delivered today, Valentine's Day. I used 1-800flowers and ordered online. I received email confirmation that the ordered was processed and ready for delivery, the problem was they never delivered them. I finally called at 5 PM and they said "oops were sorry we will refund your money" like this will make every thing alright. Please everyone do not do business with this company, and please feel free to call them and tell them how they ruined my Valentine's Day.

    February 14, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
    • g brown

      >I know this is off the subject>>they did the same thing to me on a $100 order for an out of state funeral for the child of a coworker. "Ooops, didn't get it delivered. We'll send it tomorrow." I agree...don't EVER call them for flowers.

      February 15, 2011 at 12:23 am |
  14. Tanya

    Fresh fruits and vegetables, and the artificial sweetener aspartame are converted to methanol in the body, and methanol is a cancerogen.

    February 14, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
  15. Corie

    I'm so thankful that Lysa chose to share her story and write this book.
    I knew that I had an issue with food, but would never had connected it as a lacking in my spiritual life. Now, with the truths that Lysa has reminded me of, I am turning to God instead of food. I have and will recommend her Made to Crave book for anyone who struggles in this area.

    February 14, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
  16. Monica

    Lysa, I appreciate the honest and transparent message that is shared. I really need to look at my motives, decision making and outcomes. It has been too easy to make excuses. Eating healthy has been a wonderful boon to my health. I am excited that I look forward to eating healthy foods. Recently I have eaten a few items not on my eating plan and know that being on track is what serves my health best. Thank you for the challenge to let God lead in making choices in my life that honor Him!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
  17. Mary Mom MN

    Lysa, I have been reading your book, Made to Crave, and although I am not at the point where i feel I can give up my chocolate or added sugars...I am at the thinking point and realising just what AM I CRAVING? When I am after the sweets–when the kidsa re acting up–or I am trying to get some work down at work that is less than pleasant and I need to sweeten it with a reward....I do need to think and change....

    I applaud your courage. I am just a few steps behind...but on the journey. Keep blogging.

    February 14, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
  18. Another Jesus Girl

    Lysa,

    Our pastor spoke of persecution out of Matthew 15:16 – 26 this past Sunday (regarding St. Valentine being a Christian Martyr). The Pastor reminded us that God's truth will offend. When the attacks come, as they obviously are, remember it is against God's truth, not you. Tuck that little nugget in your heart. I'm so thankful the Lord is using you in a mighty way to help all of us who recognize we are not sovereign unto our selves and to reach those who would accept His gift.

    February 14, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
  19. Julie

    Everything Lysa writes is so genuine and so affirming–even in reference to our struggles. I laugh at her "girlfriend honest" approach to weight loss and all the other subjects she tackles. You're a gem, Lysa, and my inbox is a happier, smarter, more inspired place because of you!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
  20. Stephanie

    Thank you Lysa for encouraging us to be healthy in our food choices and to see that our true worth is in Jesus Christ alone and not our weight.

    February 14, 2011 at 9:18 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.