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. Shayna Sheneman :)

    Its good for her and she should keep up with eating healthy. Now all we need is the other 79% of americans to do the same 🙂

    March 21, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  2. Delilah

    This is really a wonderful article that can help anyone whose suffering from weight loss. Congrads on your success! =]

    March 5, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  3. Carolee Kokes

    Thank you Lysa for those beautiful words of encouragement. I am looking forward each day to reading your blog and Proverbs 31 ministry devotion to help me in my struggle with my deep desires for food. Those along with Made to Crave I am having daily victories in allowing Jesus to fill my emptiness. NOT FOOD! Praise Jesus!
    Exercise, right now, seems to be the difficult task to leap into. I do not like to do planned exercise! Thanks again for being a big part of my daily encouragement in this spiritual journey I am on. I love you Lysa, my sister in Christ, who is being used so tremendously by God.

    February 18, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • Wilmar

      Glad to hear that you are on the mend! I fell in the shower last night and now Leland hnktis I have something wrong with my brain. I realize I was just standing there and the next thing I know I was falling, but I really am just a klutz.Anyway...what I am trying to say is I feel your pain. The 30-Day Shred is awesome. It really kicks your ass and will whip you into shape in no time...as will all the running. If you keep up with it, I would be surprised if you didn't lose that 7 pounds this month.Good luck and I can't wait for updates!

      March 3, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
  4. Claudia

    Thanks Lysa for the encouragement – I definately needed help with the "want to" which is the hardest thing about any deep down change over the long haul. In Webster's dictionary a definition of the word determination is "absolute direction to a certain end". You've been able to give both the direction and the end goal of this battle we're in. Thanks.

    February 17, 2011 at 7:11 am |
  5. David Johnson

    Hmmm... Let's see...

    How would the prayers go? Please, lord of the universe! Don't let this cheese cake go right to my thighs!


    February 16, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
  6. Doris

    Oh my goodness what some people say. Lysa, girl you keep on keeping on. You are a blessing to so many and I'm sure God is smiling down on you my sister. May your ministry grow by leaps and bounds. God Bless!!!!!

    February 16, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  7. Nancy

    Praise God for reaching out to struggling people through you Lysa. Thank you for your courage to take the heat for speaking the truth.

    February 16, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  8. Annette Skinner

    I am so proud of you. I love your new book "Made to Crave." Wayne & I are losing weight and feel much better. May God continue to give you the right words for this hour. You are a blessing to all JESUS girls and I am one of them. Love ya, Lysa!

    February 16, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  9. HotAirAce

    If she got her faith from reality rather than a book-of-stupidity she would realize it *is* as simple as calories in vs calories out. No god is going to help anyone live healthier or get thinner 'casue THERE ARE NO GODS!

    February 16, 2011 at 12:42 am |
  10. Casey

    Lysa, thank you for shining light in this area that so many Christians ignore. You are bringing God's truth to so many through Made to Crave. My little accountability group and I are so, so grateful for the changes we are already seeing in our lives. May God continue to bless you and your ministry.

    February 15, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  11. Jenny

    i've felt your pain, but now have replaced chocolate with homemade cheese!


    February 15, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  12. Lisa

    Loved the article. I too have begun to find peace with my weight struggles. I have lost 31 pounds without a struggle since I realized at 49 yrs old that since we adopted our boys, I want to be around for them since the former parents were not. We adopted them as young tweens and they need me. The Lord has helped me accept ALL that I am now and when I did that....I was able to start losing.

    February 15, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
  13. Tonni

    Thank you Lysa, for once again reminding us of God's truth!

    February 15, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  14. JoAnne

    Thank you Lysa – very encouraging message! A great reminder to seek Jesus for my PEACE and not a piece of ANYTHING else!

    February 15, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • Fatme

      Posted on That is EXACTLY why we dont want gay mrraiage. You/they are challenging and trying to hinder our right to our pursuit of happiness by trying to reduce mrraiage from what it actually is to something you have and want. We see it as not only a direct attack on the santion of mrraiage but also a direct attack on religion in all its forms. So you expect us to give up our rights so you can have some phantom right of your own? A right that you decided we should give you?

      March 1, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
  15. 8storyshel

    Fight the good fight of faith and keep tight hold on that eternal inheritance to which you have been called. You are doing a good and brave thing here. May God use you to open the hearts of the nay-sayers.
    Love ya, girl!

    February 15, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  16. Mary

    Lysa, dear sweet sister may YOU be encouraged by the positive and faithful journey you have brought many "Jesus" girls to. Its not just totally about food, but it is a huge part, which is mentioned so many times in scripture, WOW! Its about surrending our will to the perfect Will of our Heavenly Father. Jesus came to lead the way and boy do we get side tracked. Thank you for doing His will and doing this Made to Grave study. It has charged my life and has led me out of slavery to food and wandering in the desert. I still have a ways to go but I am on a journey I have never taken before and its a wonderful joy filled ride! Thanks Jesus Girl!
    Blessings Mary

    February 15, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  17. Carmen

    Thank you, Lysa. You are such a blessing.

    February 15, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  18. curmudgeon

    Awesome! Thank you! This is exactly what I needed to read today!

    February 15, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  19. Holly

    Lysa's right hand person here...

    Sweet whispers of encouragement, girls. Remember you were made to crave buying books and DVD's, so get out there and do it!

    February 15, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  20. Lori

    Such a great turnout of Jesus girls writing here! Lysa really appreciates it. When she put out the request for a little help yesterdayon her blog we thought we'd get a hundred or so of you true believers extolling the virtues of "Made To Crave", but y'all just hit it out of the park.

    February 15, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • HotAirAce

      So Lysa is up to it again – getting all her jesus freaks to "stuff the ballot box" for her CNN article. You do realize that if she had anything serious to say, and there was a god, she wouldn't have to resort to such methods?

      February 16, 2011 at 1:42 am |
    • Melody

      interesting that this comment remains in the exact same spot

      February 16, 2011 at 10:17 am |
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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.