Hungry For More?
Finding Satisfaction in the Ultimate Soul Food
We had the opportunity to talk with Lysa TerKeurst, author of the book and devotional Made to Crave, and asked her a few questions on dieting and her latest project. Here’s what she had to say…
: We’ve all tried them, but do diets work?
LT: Dieting works in the short term. I can reduce my calories. I can make healthy choices and I see those as short-term sacrifices. But then when I reach my goal weight, I invite all those old habits that have been deprived right back in and then I gain the weight.
I always felt like I was gaining, losing, gaining, losing. That temporary diet mentality didn’t work for me because I was only trying to get healthy from a physical sense. What I realized is that I’m not just a physical creature. I am an emotional, physical and spiritual woman. And I had to tackle the emotional issues and spiritual issues that were causing me to overeat. When I would take in food, I wasn’t just hoping it would hit my stomach, I was hoping it would soothe my soul. And food can reach my stomach, but food can never reach my soul.
When I started to think through that and the emotional triggers that would make my soul hungry, I realized this couldn’t just be a diet, it has to be a spiritual journey. It can’t be temporary, and it has to run deeper than just my food choices.
: So how did you make this a spiritual journey?
LT: Instead of getting a diet a plan and making this a physical journey, I decided along with my diet plan—and I did have a healthy eating regiment—to start reading the Bible from the perspective of someone struggling with food, just to see if God had anything to say about this. Because I started understanding that there is a difference between food hunger and soul hunger. When I was really hungry for food, I could make healthy choices. But when I would start feeling those soul hungers, those French fries seemed very close and sometimes God seemed far away. So I needed to be able to turn to the Bible and have the Lord come close in those moments.
I honestly thought that I would read in the Bible that God would say: “Lysa, I love you exactly how you are.” And you know what? In the Bible, God does say that He loves me exactly how I am. But He also says He loves me too much to leave me in a state of defeat. And I was in a complete state of defeat. . . I never was at peace.
When I opened up the Bible and started reading, right in the very front of the Bible in Genesis, I read about Eve. And I’ve read that story so many times, but it never occurred to me that the prop Satan used to lure Eve into temptation and then eventually sin and bring down all of mankind was food. So when I realized, right from the beginning, there’s a woman, there’s food and there’s Satan and his lies, I realized this is an issue God cares about. And as I continued to read through the Bible, I realized, this cannot be a physical diet. This has to be a spiritual journey so I can really let God lead me to a place where I understood, I wasn’t just physically overweight, I was spiritually underweight. And I had to tie those two things together to find lasting victory.
: Have you had any struggles along the way?
LT: It’s easy to be satisfied by food, it’s harder to understand how to be satisfied by God. But just because something is easy, doesn’t mean that it’s good. And that’s what I started thinking about. . . . Overeating is easy, but it’s not good. That’s one of my little mantras that I keep in my brain: easy is not the new good.
: What steps have you taken to crave God instead of food?
LT: One powerful thing I started doing every time I felt tempted by food—instead of wallowing in the temptation and giving in to it or throwing myself a pity party—I would see it as a reminder to pray. So in that moment, I would close my eyes and tell God everything I was thinking, everything I was feeling, even if I was mad.
I would say, “God, I am so mad right now because I really want this brownie. I want it so bad that I am about to drive myself crazy. My strength is done… And Lord, I know in the grand scheme of all the things You’re dealing with on earth today this is really small, but to me it’s huge.”
I would have these gut-honest conversations with God. It would get me to a place where I’ve talked to God about it and I have the power now because I’ve tapped into God’s strength to walk away from this brownie. And if I walk away from this brownie, I won’t taste the sweet taste of chocolate, but I will taste the sweet taste of victory, and I will continue to taste the sweet taste of peace. And peace tastes better than any brownie ever could.
: In your latest project, the Made to Crave Devotional, you wrote “God’s goal isn’t for us to be skinny. God’s goal is for us to be healthy—spiritually and physically.” That’s pretty counterculture. Why is being healthy better than being skinny?
LT: My ultimate goal was not a number on the scale that would say, “Lysa, you’re skinny.” I’ve reached those low weights at different times in my life, and even though I was skinny, I still wasn’t satisfied. And therefore, I would gain the weight right back. So my ultimate goal became peace—emotional peace, physical peace and spiritual peace. I knew in order to be a healthy person, I had to have peace in those three areas. That meant having a healthy approach to food—not being in a state of deprivation, but not being in a state of eating whatever I wanted either—having that gentle balance of self control and self discipline and doing it to honor the Lord with my body, mind and heart. By restoring God to the rightful place of honor in my heart, I really do desire more of God. That’s the true definition of why God created us to crave. We were created to crave, or made to crave, so that we always desire more of God. And we need to keep God in that place of being that great desire of our heart and our mind and our soul.
For me, just because I’m skinny doesn’t mean I’m healthy. Just because I’m skinny doesn’t mean I’m at peace. And just because I’m skinny doesn’t mean that God’s in the right place in my heart. But being healthy is being at peace physically, spiritually and emotionally and I know that it extends beyond a number on a scale.
: Can you apply the principles of Made to Crave to addictions other than food?
LT: Absolutely… My issue happened to be food, but the truths in the Made to Crave book and the devotional can easily translate into whatever substitute people are trying to get that soul hunger met by something other than God.
For more on Lysa TerKeurst and Made to Crave, click here to find your local Christian bookstore.