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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. Name*Kelly

    Thank you Lysa for stepping out of your comfort zone for us!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:36 am |
  2. Becky W.

    Thank you so much Lysa!! What a powerful message this Valentine's Day! We are stronger than our taste buds. Wow, I never thought of that. Thank you for reminding me that Jesus loves me, no matter what I look like on the outside.
    Your bravery in stepping out of your box and sharing your message is truly inspiring.

    February 14, 2011 at 9:36 am |
  3. Southernsnow

    Lysa, thank you for your ongoing candor, support and reminding us that we have options when it comes to celebrating and comforting ourselves and others and to step outside the food comfort zone and celebrate our whole being not just our tast buds.

    February 14, 2011 at 9:36 am |
  4. Jennifer

    Lysa, you are beautiful, courageous, able, and victorious. Thank you for showing us how to believe those things about ourselves. Oh how He loves us!....now to accept and believe them for myself!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:36 am |
  5. Angela

    Thank you for reminding me that even though I am fat, I am worthy, loved, and beautiful. The world is a harsh place for fat people. We seem to be the new class of people that it has been determined is okay to be rude to and discriminate against. Thank you for reminding me that God still works miracles every single day.

    February 14, 2011 at 9:35 am |
  6. RachelB

    Thank you for being so REAL and transparent. Thank you for speaking TRUTH into our lives today! We are LOVED..and we were made for more than this! "May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God." Ephesians 3:19

    February 14, 2011 at 9:34 am |
  7. Annajazz

    I wish I read this before then I could have warned my Boyfriend not to get me chocolates for Valentine’s Day! haha. Even still, this will help me not to over indulge. Thanks Lysa, I love your book and blog!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • MoodyMoody

      Encourage him (if he doesn't have a weight problem) to help you eat them! Especially encourage him to eat YOUR favorites.

      February 14, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
  8. kathryn71459

    Once again, Lysa, you have 'hit the nail on the head'. I loved this article and, even though I don't have the particular struggle with food that some others have, I DO have a struggle with believing I'm beautiful, courageous, able, victorious and worthy! I needed this reminder on today of all days as it is a day that a lot of us really don't enjoy at all – and not just because of the 'sweets' issue. Thank you so much for the love of God shared in your article that came straight through and touched my heart this morning in a very special and much needed way.

    As always – you have allowed Him to encourage and strengthen me through your words – thank you for being a willing vessel 🙂

    February 14, 2011 at 9:33 am |
  9. Leslie

    Great job Lysa!! We all have our struggles and deep in our hearts we all crave peace! That peace that God wants so desperately to give to us, we just need to get past our strongholds and depend on him to provide that happiness.

    February 14, 2011 at 9:33 am |
  10. Kathleen

    Great points on a great day! I feel good about today because I am going out to dinner and planning on ordering 'real food' – and be grateful for it....and bless it to nourish me. As well, just finished 'Made to Crave' – a book that needed to be written. Lastly, I sent Valentine cards to all my single friends, single mom's, parents, teenagers – everyone that is not currently riding a 'love boat' of their own – and as it turns out – It blessed me the most!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:32 am |
  11. Lee

    Wonderful article Lysa!! While food is not my struggle, I am so thankful that you're blog posts and articles are written so that I am able to insert my struggle into the truth God is speaking through you! Thank you so much!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:32 am |
  12. Carla

    ..."I hated that I constantly bounced from feeling deprived to feeling guilty with my food choices." Amen! While it's still easy to go there, focusing on the source of my crave has been a huge help. Love your book, Lysa. Love your spirit and heart. Thanks for sharing such a personal struggle with the world – we are encouraged!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:30 am |
  13. Karen

    After 30 days of success, thanks to you pointing the way, I slipped back into old habits. To honor God and his love for me, I start again today........on the day we celebrate love. Thanks for letting me know I am not alone in these struggles.

    February 14, 2011 at 9:29 am |
  14. ImaBeliever

    I've been reading Made To Crave, and practicing the principle it speaks about that "everything is permissable, but not everything is beneficial" in my choices of food. Since January 10th, I have lost 16 pounds by simply eating to nourish and fuel my body instead of using food for any other reason. I have been surprised at how easy this has been for me. I have no food cravings and do not feel the least bit deprived. I now see and understand that my body is the temple of God and it's long past time for me to honor God and"rebuild" His temple to what it should be. Thank you Lysa for allowing God to speak through you.

    February 14, 2011 at 9:27 am |
  15. Danielle Jones

    Lysa, you do what God has called you to without fear or worry. There will always be naysayers. But, remember that they are not coming against you so much, but the Spirit that dwells within you and the truth that He holds.

    Keep rockin' it, girl!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:24 am |
  16. Heidi...

    Thank you Lysa! Working through Made to Crave is like peeling an onion... I'm finding layer of after layer of what I have allowed to inhabit my heart and lead me to the fat girl I am today.

    You have encouraged me so much! Wednesday will be seven weeks without refined sugar... and I feel GREAT! This weekend I helped serve a wedding cake and when I was all done serving, I licked the icing off my fingers. It tasted good but more than that, it was ENOUGH! I no longer "needed" two pieces of wedding cake to go along with the icing on my fingers.

    Thanks for all you have done!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:24 am |
  17. Susie

    Peace - such a glorious thing, especially when a battle has been raging! I've been there with the battle of trying to eat right and feeling deprived, and eating what I wanted and feeling guilty! Making healthy food plans, with little treats included here and there, has helped me break the cycle. I'm learning to savor those little treats, and to find satisfaction in the abundance of healthy choices available, too! Learning so much through Made to Crave – finally, a book by someone who "gets it"!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:24 am |
  18. Debbie H.

    Thank you for sharing your message of hope. My 16-year old daughter is struggling with a weight problem. She shuts me down every time I try to talk to her. However, I am laying this at the feet of Jesus.

    February 14, 2011 at 9:23 am |
  19. Joyce

    It is so nice to know there are others who understand the desire to not be conformed to the world's view of holidays which is always about food (the over indulgence of food).

    February 14, 2011 at 9:21 am |
  20. Susan

    Great article! Everything you said was so true....and I would rather have peace than a temporary moment of taste bud satisfaction. Thanks for sharing Lisa!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:21 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.