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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. sweet jane

    All you fat lazy pigs, get off your fat ass and stop the constant eating.You fat pigs are pathertic and discusting.
    I hopr this helps.

    February 14, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  2. Lindsay

    Ok, I am one of those girls that really doesn't struggle with weight but right now I am 10 pounds over my healthy weight, where all my pants don't fit good, and I haven't been exercising. I haven't read Made to Crave, but this article along with all the comments, except for the random Numbers comment that was out of context, has made me want to eat healthier. My husband and I read a book several years ago, What the Bible Says About Eating Healthy, can't remember the author, but it changed our mindset about living long, healthy, productive, and ENJOYABLE lives by just eating the foods our Creator designed for us to eat. Very interesting! I still do not eat shrimp to this day because the book talked about the "bottom" dwellers of the ocean and rivers and shrimp and catfish were among those "bottom" dwellers. Anyway didn't mean to ramble on but thanks so much for this encouraging article, you have a beautiful way of writing and I am motivated to really try to eat healthy again except for tonight, I have some heart-shaped doughnuts waiting on me ;).
    Love and Peace to you Lysa!

    February 14, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  3. Carol

    Yes, we are all responsible for what we do. I also know that, speaking just for myself, I can't get by without the help of my Father. Lysa's reflections remind me that I am NEVER alone. Again, just speaking for myself!

    February 14, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  4. Teri

    This was a wonderful article and I can't wait to go buy the book! Thank you!!!!

    February 14, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  5. david

    Thanks for the long drawn out story about chocolate. I mean come on! Addicted to chocolate? Or sweets for that matter? "Yeah, I totally remember getting together with my friends and having chocolate parties. We got such a rush from it. One time I remember downing a whole 3 pound bar of chocolate. I couldnt freaking help myself!!!!!" Great contribution LYSA.

    February 14, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
  6. Rachael

    Great article Lysa! It is tough saying no today...but I am remembering who I am...I child of God and He wants me for more!

    February 14, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  7. Jessica

    Nothing tastes as good as peace feels...thank you Lysa.

    February 14, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  8. Zeph

    Waaaaay too many Christian opinions on the front page these days. There are, believe it or not, other systems that people buy into, like Islam, Judaism, and the truth.

    February 14, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  9. Varun

    an Ex-fat lazy pig wrote an article and all fat lazy pigs acknowledging it. Fat pigs, stop eating more than your body needs. When you have goals in life(other than being fat), you will not think about candy all the time.

    February 14, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Varun Needs a Hug

      What's wrong with you? Do you hate yourself too? I feel sorry for you.

      February 14, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • MoodyMoody

      Cider vinegar, swallowed, can be an effective aid to dieting. Varun vinegar, read, makes me want to eat a half dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I won't do it, of course, but you know you aren't helping anybody, not even yourself, don't you?

      February 14, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
  10. Cherries

    I was challenged to give up sugar for a week. No artificial sweeteners, honey, nada. After the withdrawl headaches went away is wasn't so bad. I LOVE chocolate and all of its sweet buddies, it was tough. Kudos to this gal!

    February 14, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  11. Nancy

    What an inspiring article. Thank you, Lysa.
    From someone who has spent years making the same mistakes and playing the same scripts over and over. Your writing is like a breath of fresh air and the sweet whisper of hope.
    God bless!

    February 14, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  12. Jesus

    I am as real as zeus and thor...

    why do these crazy people believe in fairy tales

    February 14, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  13. fatman

    Being a fatty and eating chocolate isn't an addiction, its an excuse to justifying being a fatty and eating chocolate.

    February 14, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • Richard

      Right! It's no better than blaming genetics. FACT: It takes 3500 calories to produce one pound of fat on a body, that assumes no burning of any of them. In order to become a lard-ass, you need to injest a substantially greater proportion of calories than you burn, and despite what some claim, we all burn calories at roughly the same rate because humans need a certain amount just to live. Some of these people who are grossly obese consume as many calories per day as a 300lb football player and they do ZERO to burn it off!!!

      February 14, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • MoodyMoody

      What are the two of you doing hating on Ms. TerKeurst? She lost weight, is keeping it off, and isn't blaming anyone but herself for her former weight. She found a way to take control of what she eats. She knows sweets, especially chocolate, are foods that she has trouble handling. Therefore she decided to avoid those problem foods. Like a few other posters, I'm not Christian and don't use the same approach myself.

      Are the two of you so reflexively "hate the fat person" that you don't recognize and give credit where credit is due? Or are you just trolls?

      February 14, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
  14. Richard

    What a load of nonsense. There IS no chocolate addiction. There is only "want." Don't try to make chocolate out to be a pharmaceutical or alcohol, because that is pure B.S.
    Americans are now the ultimate blame culture. Blame everything but me. I had no control!!! LOSERS! No wonder your country is on the wane.

    February 14, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • Cherries

      Give her some credit. Why wouldn't you want something that tastes great? At least she is aware of her problem and is doing what she can to solve it.

      February 14, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • Jared

      Anything can become an addiction. You mention alcohol. How is that any different than chocolate? You derive pleasure from use, and become addicted to the feeling of being "high" so to speak. There are two kinds, psychological, and physiological. Neither one is truly worse than the other.

      However, becoming an addict and failing to overcome an addiction are both the fault of the user. It's a sign of weakness. They need help, but that doesn't ever make it NOT their fault. Unless of course someone tied you up and shot you full of something, then you didn't really choose to become an addict.

      February 14, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • Come On You Tool

      Richard,

      Please look into attending the Derek Zoolander Center For Children Who Can't Read Good.

      Thanks.

      February 14, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  15. Terri

    Great article.

    February 14, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  16. Lori

    Thanks, Lysa, for the great words of truth and encouragement. I am reading Made to Crave right now and reading it with a wonderful group of young women who don't have weight issues. But truth is truth! Anything, food or whatever it may be that we put before God is an idol. Good words Lysa!

    February 14, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  17. Diane

    Thank you thank you THANK YOU and God bless you. In my pre-Lenten "getting real" over these and other issues, you struck a cord that needing sounding. And if that's hokey, that's okay!

    February 14, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  18. Knows More About Bible Than You

    And God Said Unto Moses (referring to what he should do to his enemies)

    "Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man."
    Numbers 31:7-18

    yes the bible is definitely the book to live by.

    February 14, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Valerie

      I agree that the bible verse you are referring to sounds terrible when taken out of context, but it is important to remember that one should read the entire book of Numbers to understand what was going on in verse 17 and why Moses spoke those words. I pray that you will take the time to do this, and that God will bless you into understanding.

      February 14, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Cheryl

      Very intelligent contribution. (note sarcasm) Seriously. You site 1 verse, taken GROSSLY out of context, to bring negativity into this post that was intended to encourage? Nice. Whether a person is spiritual or not, this is not helpful...or even relevant to the issue at hand. Let's stay on point, shall we?

      February 14, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Valerie

      Also,I think it is worth mentioning that Moses spoke those words in verse 17, not God.

      " 7 They fought against Midian, as the LORD commanded Moses, and killed every man. 8 Among their victims were Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur and Reba—the five kings of Midian. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword. 9 The Israelites captured the Midianite women and children and took all the Midianite herds, flocks and goods as plunder. 10 They burned all the towns where the Midianites had settled, as well as all their camps. 11 They took all the plunder and spoils, including the people and animals, 12 and brought the captives, spoils and plunder to Moses and Eleazar the priest and the Israelite assembly at their camp on the plains of Moab, by the Jordan across from Jericho. Moses, Eleazar the priest and all the leaders of the community went to meet them outside the camp. 14 Moses was angry with the officers of the army—the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds—who returned from the battle.
      15 “Have you allowed all the women to live?” he asked them. 16 “They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and enticed the Israelites to be unfaithful to the LORD in the Peor incident, so that a plague struck the LORD’s people. 17 Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, 18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man."

      February 14, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Magic

      Valerie

      "Also,I think it is worth mentioning that Moses spoke those words in verse 17, not God."

      Ok, so Moses was a monster, then. And you think that he spoke for a "God". This "God" is going to have to do a much better job communicating than this mess of a Bible. "He" can't? "He" won't? What?

      February 14, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • Jared

      Yeah, you really shouldn't take it out of context. You need to include the woman hate that also occurrs in the passage. There's no better book to put women down than the bible. I mean, after all, it's all their fault. Everything. Always. The bible says so. When a man screws up it was because a woman made him do it.

      Every time someone quotes the bible out of context people jump in and yell at them, but whenever someone quotes something from the bible that's clearly a mess they tend to ignore it. Anyone care to explain the significance of Passover, and what it's all about?

      February 14, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • NL

      So, what IS the proper context for killing all the women and children, but keeping all the virgins for your enjoyment?

      February 14, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
  19. Hannah

    Yay for a link on the front page of cnn.com!!!

    February 14, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  20. Heather

    Lysa,
    Pursuing personal peace is the heart of the issue. People don't like to hear that Jesus is intricately involved in these tiny details of our lives, like sugar, but He really does care about how it affects the state of our hearts. Thanks for continuing to bravely get your message out there for others to hear. Clearly, you've struck a nerve and found common ground with many of us. I really appreciate you!

    February 14, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • saganhill

      Really? And how do you know that jesus worries about these tiny details in our lives? I dont see anywhere in the bible about sugar and its attributes and affects on our hearts.

      February 14, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • Teri

      I keep running across the verse that says "“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. 4 I will build you up again,.... Those little nuggets are the ways I know he sees the details.

      February 14, 2011 at 3:15 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.