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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. Impy

    Thank you for addressing the "false positive" in so many lives. We lean on food "weigh" too much in our daily lives, looking to it for all the false reasons....it can't overcome boredom, fix the stress at work, erase the emotional needs, or relieve a tired body....ALSO, glad your book has hit the bestseller list!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:19 am |
  2. Lisa

    Lysa, Thank you for putting yourself out there everyday. I love "Made to Crave." I just finished it after hearing you speak at FBCIT. It has giving me the courage to deal with issues in my life which I know and have known that Jesus can help me over come. Thank you for putting it out there to reaffirm and support us in our struggles.

    February 14, 2011 at 9:19 am |
  3. Bethany

    Way to go, Lysa! Thanks for sharing.

    February 14, 2011 at 9:18 am |
  4. Niki

    Great article, Lysa! Thank you for sharing your struggles and thoughts through this article and your book "Made to Crave". I am enjoying this journey that you are taking me on. I look forward to how my relationship with Christ and food will be changed. Thank you for being a real Jesus girl with real food issues.

    February 14, 2011 at 9:17 am |
  5. Beth A

    I love to hear from Lysa on CNN. What an encouragement. Good to hear something truly uplifting!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:16 am |
  6. Gail

    Great message Lysa! Can't wait to hear you again at the Belcher Center at LeTourneau University in Longview, TX in 2 weeks!!!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:15 am |
  7. joy

    Thank you Lysa for sharing these simple but hard to keep truths. You have been so helpful in my life as I try to put God first above all other distractions. Blessings to you.

    February 14, 2011 at 9:13 am |
  8. Missy

    Awesome message....the parts that really speaks to me is" Nothing tastes as good as peace feels"....and the part about it is pleasing to my taste buds....very powerful words!! Thank you for this article. I am also reading Made to Crave....very good book!!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:12 am |
  9. Lori

    Lysa- Thank you, thank you for being strong enough to share and open enough to show your heart to the world. This is a subject that NEEDS talked about, whether your craving is food or something else. Nothing should separate us from the love of Christ Jesus (not even chocolate!).

    February 14, 2011 at 9:11 am |
  10. Michelle B.

    Love what you are doing. I have just finished reading your book Made to Crave. It was GREAT! I want to eat healthy, but most of all I am craving God like I never have before. Thank you!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:11 am |
  11. Kerry

    What an encouraging message!! Thanks for sharing!! Loved it!!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:10 am |
  12. Michelle

    Lysa, thanks for doing the brave thing, once again, to share your strength, experience and hope for those of us who "get" what it's like to have a dysfunctional relationship with food. Not everyone who reads this will understand it and their words will reflect that, but those of us who share the struggle and are looking for the way out are SO encouraged by your words. I just love your vulnerable way of showing us that you've been there, you understand, and you hold out your hand to help pull the rest of us up and out of a pit of despair...and most importantly, you remind us that God cares about us and will do for us what we could not do for ourselves when we are willing to trust him. God bless YOU, sweet sister!!!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:08 am |
  13. Jo

    So proud to see my girl Lysa doing it again on CNN !!! SWEET!!! Keep it coming precious sister in Christ. Oh how he loves all of US!! God Bless. 🙂

    February 14, 2011 at 9:08 am |
  14. Michelle

    Lysa is doing an amazing work in this. Thank you so much! Amen!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:08 am |
  15. Glenda

    Praise God!!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:07 am |
  16. Jo-Ann Porterfield

    I appreciate the honesty and integrity in which you share your struggles and your heart. You're an encouragement and inspiration to so many. Thanks for speaking truth!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:07 am |
  17. Lynn

    God's truth will set us free! Thank you, Lysa, for leading us to THE truth of Jesus!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:07 am |
  18. Heather

    Lysa, perfect message today! I can eat a little dark chocolate and not go on a binge, but a little bakery...and it's full-on! Thanks so much for this message today and every day...Jesus IS the answer!! Hugs!!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:05 am |
  19. Peggy

    Great Message Lysa - Like you fasting from sugar for heath reasons and have never felt better and really don't feel deprived (which is a big suprise to me) but that's because Jesus is filling in the hole left by the sugar and He is much sweeter.

    February 14, 2011 at 9:05 am |
  20. Debbie

    Great article Lysa! Thank you so much for putting yourself out there - there will always be critics, but you know in your heart that you've done what the Lord would have you do - may His peace reign supreme in you today!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:05 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.