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. Sherri G

    Thanks for a great article. I like "Nothing tastes as great as peace feels". I really don't like that feeling I get after munching a half bag of potato chips, thinking why in the world did I just do that??? Again??!!! Keep the faith, girl, you're and inspiration to many.

    February 14, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  2. Carol

    Thank you for sharing these simple ideas with everyone. I appreciate the positve message of hope that you are sharing.

    February 14, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  3. AGeek

    Congratulations. You've traded one addiction for another. If it makes you feel better or assists in kicking you off whatever you're on, that's fine. But please, don't say you've kicked something when you've simply traded it for another. Remove something that's not good in your life (certain foods, cigarettes, alcohol) and *do not* backfill it with anything. If you can be at peace with _yourself_, and _by yourself_, then and only then can you truly benefit from an addition. That addition might be spirituality, which ..hey, if that's your thing, fine. (I'm not saying spirituality is a bad thing here!)

    February 14, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  4. Carissa H.

    I don't understand how people have to be idiots when they respond. Can't you just be respectful?? I am so glad to be reading your book, Made to Crave. It is helping me to make my weight loss journey a lifestyle change. In the end, being healthy is the best gift we can give those we love. Thank you for being bold and being human.

    February 14, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  5. Stacie

    What a great reminder! Thank you!

    February 14, 2011 at 11:18 am |
  6. Angela

    Lysa, What a wonderful message to all of us who were missing our chocolate today - but you are right and my health is so much more important than what my taste buds are wanting in the moment. I will admit to getting lots of prayer in today because there have been tons of triggers for praying...

    February 14, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  7. Pam Martin

    I should have ordered "Made to Crave" as soon as it came out! Wow I love this: 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. It is true "jesus wants me to have Peace of Mind, not to have Piece of Cake. Thanks for reminding me of that Lysa

    February 14, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  8. Paula

    Thank you Lysa. Make to Crave is life changing. My husband and I are doing it together.

    February 14, 2011 at 10:50 am |
  9. ~Grace & Peace

    "Nothing tastes as good as peace feels" All I can say is, Amen!
    Speak that truth, sister!

    February 14, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  10. Amy

    Hi Lysa! I bought your book a couple weeks ago, and am going to start reading it this week. I've been skimming it, but I'm tired of the vision looking back at me every morning. I am by no means a "huge" girl, but I am overweight. Food has become my source of comfort over the past year and half during times of hardship & struggle in my life. I'm ready to turn those & my temptations w/ the wrong kinds of food, over to God. I'm looking forward to diving into your book and learning how to crave God more than sweets! Thank you for your words of encouragement to all of us who struggle w/ one vice or another... Blessings to you! Amy

    February 14, 2011 at 10:47 am |
  11. Carol

    Lysa, Thanks for the words of encouragement and for getting me headed in the right direction. Happy Valentine's Day and God bless you and your ministry!

    February 14, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  12. Kim W.

    I like the idea of asking myself, about any choice, "Is this going to add to my peace, or take away from it?" I just finished Lysa's book, Made to Crave, and it is the best book about eating, weight, and health, that I have ever read (and believe me, I've read quite a few).

    February 14, 2011 at 10:43 am |
  13. Carol

    “nothing tastes as good as peace feels!” Amen! Lysa thank you for sharing your struggles and your victories! You are an inspiration! Thank you for being you and sharing about your faith in God!

    February 14, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  14. Linda Schuhmacher

    Another AWESOME write up from you. Your genuine caring for people surely comes out. For me this came at just the right time in my life. I was using a crutch for so long & now I look to God to Empower me daily as I go forward to exercise & eat healthy. This book doesn't just apply to addiction of food......it can apply to any addiction that is filling the spot in our heart & lives that is God's Spot. From me to you.....YOU GO GIRL!!!!!!

    February 14, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  15. Sandra

    Thank you for helping to change my thinking and changing my life. I think you are awesome! Loved hearing you speak.

    February 14, 2011 at 10:38 am |
  16. Carrie

    Hey Lysa....another great article! Thanks for stepping outside of our cozy little blog world to deliver a message that all women need to hear.

    February 14, 2011 at 10:38 am |
  17. Gretchen

    Lysa, thank you for your message of peace on this day of love. I've hit my plateau this week and feel oh so tempted to give in to all the sweets circling this holiday. I will be repeating today...it may be permissable, but is it beneficial? Have a blessed day!

    February 14, 2011 at 10:38 am |
  18. Sheri

    I love your writing, Lysa! Thanks for sharing your journey with a million people that you don't know and for taking a risk to have hostility thrown your way. You inspire me to walk in Truth and Love. Blessings to one Jesus girl from another!

    February 14, 2011 at 10:35 am |
  19. Holly

    Thank you for these beautiful, spiritual words of encouragement and enlightenment!

    February 14, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  20. Shannon B.

    I have been using Made to Crave to help me change my perspective on a lot of things. I have given up chocolate and any form of boxed pasta or potato. Those are my comfort foods. I could eat a whole box of pasta roni all by my lonely and not think a thing about it. Now, I know when I am making wrong choices because I can feel it in the way I move and the lack of energy.

    It takes realzing that there is more out there focusing on me to make this work. I had to have something bigger to focus on. This book helps you look in the right direction. I still have struggles. I still do not want to make the right choice sometimes. Ok, many times. But it is so sweet when I DO make the right choice.

    I haven't really lost any weight yet, despite changing my diet and exercising more. My doctor told me last year that it would be hard for me to get the weight to come off, but I could at least keep more from going on. I am OK with me right now. Do I want to stay like this? No. But I can look in the mirror and not see the "Fat girl", but just see someone truly blessed with all she has. (and I actually am happy with the way I look. I don't pick myself apart but accept that I am beautifully and wonderfully made. first time in 34 years I have been able to do that.)

    February 14, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • truth-teller

      Shannon: thanks for your transparency! In these times when outward appearance are over-rated, it's nice to know that Jesus looks at our heart and loves us more than we could ever know! We've all gone through our struggles. It wasn't until I asked God to help me with mine that I found the peace Lysa's talking about. You'll make it...God will help you.

      As for biebfan4eva: wow. you are so immature. you've got struggles ahead if your idol is a teenager who doesn't even know your name. i think you should take a lesson from lysa instead of saying dumb things. think before you speak, will you? you'll do us all a favor if you will.

      February 14, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • biebfan4eva

      truth-teller –
      i only have two idols. jbiebs and jebus

      also, maybe if YOU thought before u ate u wouldnt need this article.

      one love.
      -biebs 4 eva!!!!

      February 14, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
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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.