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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. Something

    Parts of this article are so saccharine and nauseating... I may not be able to eat for the rest of the day!

    February 14, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
  2. Morgen

    Your book was very helpful for me to see that I could take out the word "food" and insert "shopping, TV, gambling, drinking, gossiping" ...what ever the craving is that is replacing a relationship with God. The success is there for the taking! God has already provided the way....you just need to recognize it, grab onto it and go!

    February 14, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
  3. CoffeeClue

    You've been eating the wrong chocolate.Lindt's 85% dark has only 7 grams of carbs per serving. I'm a diabetic and I cna eat it without raising my sugar levels. I also don't overindulge on it as I did with chocolate that's full of sugar.

    February 14, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  4. YVONNE

    FUNNY I THOUGHT THE SAME THING WHEN I WAS IN THE GROCERY STORE SATURDAY SAYING SEE YOU LATER TO ALL OF THE DISPLAYS. THIS IS THE FIRST VALENTINES WITHOUT CHOCOLATE FOR ME

    February 14, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  5. Julie

    Thanks for another great article and reminders of TRUTH!! Funny, when you talked about all the areas of our body that don't want junk food, yet our tastebuds do, it reminded me of Peter talking about the tongue being a rudder to steer the ship–and our tongues can be our downfall. Now, I know he was writing about what comes OUT OF our mouths–our speech, but funny how the tastebuds are on the tongue, too. Instead of "showing 'Hungry' who's boss" I'll let those other body parts work a number on those itty bitty tastebuds. Thanks for the renewed perspective–much needed on this morning when my 'sweetie' left a box of chocolate on my van seat (thank goodness for chocoholic coworkers).
    Your encouragement is a Godsend! Blessings to you, Lysa.

    February 14, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  6. christine

    I battle with sugar cravings every day. But what you state is so true, it's just our tastebuds. It's time the rest of me puts my tastebuds in check! Thank you Lysa.

    February 14, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  7. Kate

    EAT WHAT YOU WANT. NOT WHAT YOU THINK YOU WANT.
    We all WANT PEACE. We THINK we want that gooey peice of fudge!
    We WANT to be HEALTHY. We THINK we want that juicey cheeseburger!
    We WANT to be in CONTROL. We THINK we want that late night snack!
    We WANT to be obediant. We THINK we want to reward ourselves with food!
    ASK YOURSELF: WILL THIS GIVE ME PEACE? WILL THIS MAKE ME HEALTHY? AM I
    IN CONTROL? AM I BEING OBEDIENT? If you answer "no" to ANY of these, then just picture holding on
    to the hand of our loving God. If we choose to give into our tempation, then we must let go of His hand
    and take hold of the deceiver's. We cannot hold both hands at once. We make our choice at this critical time.
    JUST SAY: "God, I choose to hold your hand. I hold on tight! Take my hand and lead me from this place. I won't let go."
    This is working for me. I feel peace. I feel healthy. I feel control. I feel obedient, and it's WAY BETTER THAN FOOD IS!

    February 14, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  8. cheryl

    i am still not living a made to crave life yet but i am gathering all the tools and ideas so when i'm ready i will suceed. thanks for your awesome journey and sharing it with me.

    February 14, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  9. Heather Conrad

    You write girl! Praying for all those eyes that may just happen to fall upon these words today, may it penetrate to their soul, may it allow them to pause, may it dare them to believe change is possible, and even, beneficial. Happy non-sweets Valentine's Day to you, child of the Most High King!

    February 14, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  10. Vicki

    Thanks for the encouragement. It's time to hit the "restart" button for me!

    February 14, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  11. Jayne

    Chocolate doesn't feed the soul but love does and I mean the "agape" kine of love, which is giving with not expecting anything in return. I think we eat chocolate because it gives us a temporary feeling of euphoria but then we always coming crashing back to reality. The love of God will keep you "high" forever! Thanks, Lysa, for your message.

    February 14, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  12. billy

    After eating the chocolate just burn the calories in bed!!!

    February 14, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  13. Hannah

    God is an awesome God, who works in mysterious ways!

    I was excited to see how reading 'Made to Crave' would help lead me closer to God...and I am SO blessed to have been lead to your book, Lysa. Your encouraging words as well as scripture references have started me on a wonderful journey closer to God. I'm craving God more than ever in my life and although it isn't happening overnight, my focus on food is lessening more with every day.

    So great to see another one of your CNN articles! I've been waiting for it!

    February 14, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  14. TRL

    I would like to say that you have a wonderful gift of words from God! I know what you say is true here! There are so many scriptures in the Bible that prove it. God wants us to put him first and we are not able to do that when other "addictions" consume our many thoughts. I pray that everyone who comes to this site to leave a comment will be blessed with the truth. God wants to be the only GOD in our life and one day EVERY knee will bow to him...belive it or not...but don't wait too long, naysayers, because it may be too late one day.

    February 14, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  15. TRL

    I would like to say that you have a wonderful gift of words from God! I know what you say is rtrue here! There are so many scriptures in the Bible that prove it. God wants us to put him first and we are not able to do that when other "addictions" consume our many thoughts. I pray that everyone who comes to this site to leave a comment will be blessed with the truth. God wants to be the only GOD in our life and one day EVERY knee will bow to him...belive it or not...but don't wait too long, naysayers, because it may be too late one day.

    February 14, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  16. Suzie

    Thank you Lysa for allowing GOD to share these struggles and offer hope and healing to so many people around the world. Bless you and your ministry...we love you....

    February 14, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  17. Jahtik54

    AWESOME! Great article. Thank you for the reminder!!!

    February 14, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  18. Kate M.

    Thanks Lysa for the article. I enjoyed it and hope to see more coming from you at CNN. I like the analogy of the majority of our bodies doesn't desire the "good stuff", just our tastebuds. So my desire this week is for the majority to over-rule the minority taste buds! And then peacefulness will insue from my decision. Thanks again. ~Kate

    February 14, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  19. Audrey

    Lysa continues to show through her writing how God has worked in her life and how blessed we are that she is not afraid to expose the struggles she has conquered through Him. Reading the testimonials and watching the weekly webcasts on http://www.madetocrave.org have been inspirational.

    February 14, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  20. Teresa L.

    Lysa,

    Thank you for such a well written article full of. God's truth! Nobody knows our inner struggles like God does. It is so easy for the negative nay sayers to make their comments when truth be known there is probably something they struggle with as well. I thank you for listening to God's calling because in doing so you have helped oh so many of your sisters in Christ!

    Steve, thank you so much for your words of encouragement. We should all build each other up and not drag one another down with negative or rude comments. I really appreciate you for posting even though you are not struggling. :o)

    February 14, 2011 at 11:36 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.