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. Lisa

    Lysa, another great article!! I am enjoying "Made to Crave" and your Blog. Thanks for honoring Jesus and encouraging others through your writing and for being a strong, confident woman of God.
    Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.

    February 14, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  2. Tenderrlee Little

    Awesome article, as usual Lysa. I find peace knowing that when I crave the sweets I can turn to prayer to see me through, It works and it is so nice to know we are not alone in this journey. Blessings.

    February 14, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
  3. cindy b.

    never thought of it as my taste buds bossing me around. thank you for sharing Lysa! you are awesome!

    February 14, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  4. Debbie

    Excellent article. Thank you for your dedication in speaking the truth and encouraging others. I love that you have opened yourself up for all to see where you came from and who God has transformed you in to. Bless you.

    February 14, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
  5. joyce coldiron

    I found this article to be very inspiring. I have been watching the weekly dvd and have been reading the book "Made to Crave." It has been a very positive experience. This is a message well worth spreading!

    February 14, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  6. joyce coldiron

    Loved the book, DVD and workbook. Great message......very right and true.

    February 14, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  7. Amy

    Thank you Lysa for your honestly and vulnerability. I am 7 weeks into my journey toward healthier living and I am so thankful for what God is doing in my life. I have never been able to stick with any plan for more than a couple of months, but this time is so different. By allowing God to supply my strength I have been able to withstand temptations and when I falter it's a small slip, not an excuse to give up. Those who offer words of criticism just don't understand the transformation so many of us are experiencing.

    February 14, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  8. Betty

    Thanks for writing so honestly about sweets being an addiction...not an idea that is often discussed but a real problem for many of us!

    February 14, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  9. Tracy Carbaugh

    Can't wait to start the study with the gals at my church!

    February 14, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  10. Sheila

    Thank you Lisa for sharing this with the world! Women need to hear they are worthwhile and have glowing attributes past their measured physical weight. We all have struggles, maybe not with food or weight ...maybe appearance or economic status. It is important for us to realize God made us and loves us for who we are. We should do the same and trust Him to guide us to make healthy, responsible choices for our lives.

    February 14, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  11. Wendi

    Thank you Lysa for being so brave and bold in Christ and to share the truth you are learning. We all need to learn step by step how to follow our Lord Jesus and to not let the world creep in. I find strength in all the bible verses you use and I find strength in my Jesus. I am reading your book and loving it. I am learning to love me too, the woman Christ made me to be. Thank You!

    February 14, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  12. Sherri

    Thank you Lysa! You have no idea how much your book, "Made to Crave" has helped me. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    February 14, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  13. Sharron L.

    I'm almost finished reading Lysa's wonderful book "Made To Crave." It's the most effective book on this subject that I have read and is a great encouragement to Crave my relationship with Jesus over food. With His help, I can be all that He has created me to be. Thank you and thanks for this message today. I pray, too, that many lives will be changed by the "gift" of Lysa's writings.

    February 14, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  14. Joy in VA

    Keep it up, Lysa!
    You inspire us. Not because you claim to have all the answers, but because you are willing to be REAL and HONEST about your struggles. If you can do it, I can do it, because our God is BIG and he doesn't play favorites! Lol. xoxoxoxo

    February 14, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  15. Morgan

    Thank you Lysa for the message in your awesome book. You are truly an example of what occurs in this whisp of life when we say yes to God. Thank you for your obedience- God is using you to inspire me! Have a PEACEful Valentine's day!

    February 14, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  16. Kandi Brannan

    "You are more than the sum total of your taste buds." Wow. I love that sentence. Lysa, you are an amazing inspiration to so many women. I was able to hear you speak this past weekend...and I am forever changed by the words you brought forth then...and again today from reading this article. May His blessings surround you! Now...I am "able" to do the dishes...so off I go!! =)

    February 14, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  17. Suzan Powers

    I'm slowly reading through "Made to Crave" because there are so many great truths and I want to absorb them all. I am encouraged and challenged with each chapter. And I'm definitely going to put the sticky notes on my scale!! Thanks, Lysa for the encouragement!

    February 14, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  18. Liz

    Great article - thanks for your honesty and be willing to talk about the tough stuff!

    February 14, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  19. Teresa O.

    Thank you, Lysa, for writing 'Made to Crave'. I purchased a copy of it last week and after reading the first two chapters felt that you know exactly what I've been going through the past few years. God bless you!

    February 14, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  20. Kimberly

    Excellent article, Lysa. And you shared here three of the points that have stuck with me the most from your book..that I am more than the sum total of my tastebuds, that peace feels better than any food tastes, and that my worth is not found in what I weigh. I am so thankful your book is not a book designed to help us get skinny so we can feel like we are worth something.We are already loved completely, no matter what our pants size may be. Our goal on this journey is peace and a deeper relationship with the Lord..not skinny jeans. How refreshing. How freeing.
    Praying that this article will indeed stir up hope in the hearts of many today!

    February 14, 2011 at 12:32 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.