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. Nola

    Well done Lysa – you provide such great encouragement to me everyday! Keep doing what you are doing – you are blessing us all. You are brave and we appreciate it.

    February 14, 2011 at 10:13 am |
  2. Nichole

    Thank you Lysa, for always being such a blessing and encouragement! I've just recently been introduced to your books and finished What Happens When Women Say Yes to God. I think Ill be picking up Made to Crave today! For years I've been struggling as a sugar addict but I'm also diabetic. So needless to say this has to end!

    February 14, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  3. MJ

    thank you lysa. so good to know we aren't alone in our struggles and that God does desire for us to live in victory! Amazing really!

    February 14, 2011 at 10:10 am |
  4. Laurie

    Thanks, Lysa! You've added a whole new perspective to being the healthiest and best individuals we can be. When Christ is our strength, reassurance, and peace, it's easier for us to distance ourselves from food as a source for those feelings of contentment.

    February 14, 2011 at 10:08 am |
  5. Laura

    Way to go, girl! this is what the world needs to hear - AND ME TOO!!!

    February 14, 2011 at 10:04 am |
  6. Anne Peterson

    This article is wonderful and timely. I too, found that sugar called my name in some of the most attractive foods. When I subtracted sugar, two things happened.1) It was easier for me to make better choices in my eating, 2) I was aware I had been using food as a comforter. While there are other avenues out there dealing with food choices and the results we will get, Lysa addresses the question of why we make our choices. If I lose weight by simply exchanging healthy foods for unhealthy choices, but I'm still stuffing myself, what have I learned? When I was using chocolate instead of going to God with my hurts, I just got bigger, but I still wasn't dealing with how I used food to stop my pain. It does work, but afterwards in addition to still having your pain, you also have a huge helping of guilt.One warning though, if you decide to give up some of your comfort foods, you will have to face what you didn't want to face. The good news is, God will help you. He is the true comforter.

    February 14, 2011 at 10:02 am |
  7. Melissa D.

    Lisa, I'm pretty sure we came from the same mold. What you write is exactly how I feel. I started a sugar fast 2 weeks ago, but haven't done real well this past weekend. Reading this is just what I needed to keep going. I hope my sugar fast turns into years long like yours has. Thank you!!!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:58 am |
  8. Peggy

    I too struggle with food! I am willing to call sweets and good foods an addiction for me! For the last 12 years I have tried to diet. I would lose weight but the whole time I struggled with feeling deprived and then feeling guilty then I would give up and gain all my weight back and then some! As the new year was approaching, I pondered over what my new years resolutions for 2011 should be. Every year I would pray "Please Lord let this year be a better one than the one before!" and then I would go on to make the same list I would make every year .... 1. Lose weight, 2. Stop smoking, 3. Manage my money better and so on. Finally this year it dawned on me that I was going about this all wrong and that is why I wasn't gaining any success! So what was I missing? Why does every year seem worse than the year before? This year instead of asking God to please make this a better year than the one before I asked Him what was I missing? What am I doing wrong? And of course, I got my answer. So this year my one and only new years resolution was to become closer to God! If I would do that, then I would have Jesus on my side and would succeed!
    And the LORD was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. 2 Kings 18:7
    I have been reading your book What Happens When Women Walk in Faith and I also have What Happens When Women Say Yes to God, and Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl. I just ordered Made to Crave (the book, DVD, and participants guide). Lysa~ you are helping me find that success that only comes with knowing Jesus! Your Made to Crave book will help me remove all the things that are in my life that are consuming me and hindering my walk with Jesus! I would like to thank you for being there for me and many others like me! You are truly a blessing and wish you nothing but the best!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • MoodyMoody

      When you are called again to lose the weight, etc., make smaller, more specific goals. Not "lose weight," but "I will eat off of smaller plates, and use the 50-25-25 rule for eating off of them," for example. (50-25-25 rule is to cover half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, one-fourth with lean protein, and the last one-fourth with whole carbs such as a small baked potato with skin and without butter and sour cream, whole wheat bread or pasta, or steamed corn on the cob without butter.) Make the goals specific and doable for you. Start small, and lose big!

      February 14, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
  9. lisa goolsby

    What an inspiration! Thanks for the encouragement to live a victorious life in my daily battle to be healthy! Food doesn't have to control me! How simple yet profound!!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  10. betty lou

    Deprived....guilty....deprived....guilty. That has been me for many years, but that's not me anymore. Thank you for reminding me in your book that God is my portion, my peace. I need only to look to Him for strength, love, and power.

    February 14, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  11. Julie

    You are an inspiration to read. Thank you Lysa!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:55 am |
  12. Carla

    Lysa, great article. Thanks for speaking His truth. You Rock!!!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:50 am |
  13. tiredmom

    Thank You Lysa for being vulnerable in a way that lets me know I'm not alone. I love that line about your self worth being tied to you scale. I wrestle with that every time I step on it. I'm going to go write the things that Jesus says are true about me on some sticky notes. Time to start filling my brain with Truth as I embark on my Made to Crave journey.

    February 14, 2011 at 9:47 am |
  14. Heather King

    Thank you, Lysa. I love that “nothing tastes as good as peace feels!” Thanks for sharing your journey with us and encouraging us along the way.

    February 14, 2011 at 9:44 am |
  15. Vee Spivey

    Lysa, I know what you mean about sugar. Eatin sugar, for me, opens all the floodgates for all the other foods that I seem to have no control over. The last sugar that I had was on Christmas afternoon after our big meal. (except for 1 brownie the other day) When I don't eat sugar, I dont crave sugar and that leaves so much room for all the things that my taste buds are telling me really taste good. I'm free and I don't feel deprived!!! Thanks, Lysa

    February 14, 2011 at 9:44 am |
  16. Jane

    Lysa....thank you for sharing and for being faithful to write Made to Crave. It met me EXACTLY where I have been for most of my adult life. I am in the battle of changing my cravings to the One that truly matters. Thank you!!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:44 am |
  17. Sherry Whaley

    Lysa, I met you on the last all girls cruise.. and you are an inspiration. You are an awesome speaker. I've purchased your book Made to Crave and I will begin on this journey also! thank you for being brave and speaking the truth!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:43 am |
  18. Melissa

    Amazing article! Thank you!

    February 14, 2011 at 9:39 am |
  19. Steve the real one

    Not a female but let me just say this. Our God cares about EVERY aspect of our lives! So may God bless all of you who have been comforted by our sister's ministry! Don't worry about the nay sayers. They have never walked in your shoes. Not saying I have but I just want to drop off a few words of encouragement! Be blessed and stay blessed! Your Brother in Christ, Steve

    February 14, 2011 at 9:37 am |
  20. Vee Spivey


    February 14, 2011 at 9:37 am |
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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.