Book Review: “Made to Crave” by Lysa TerKeurst

There is nothing new under the sun, according to the Bible (see Ecclesiates 1:9). And Lysa TerKeurst‘s new book “Made to Crave” may be no exception.

“Made to Crave” is a New York Times and USA Today best-seller. But it isn’t the first “faith-based weight loss” book. Gwen Shamblin calls herself the “pioneer” of that genre with her 1997 book “The Weigh Down Diet.” And many others have grabbed attention over the years, perhaps most notably “The Maker’s Diet” (2004) by Jordan S. Rubin and “What Would Jesus Eat?” (2002) by Dr. Don Colbert.

But the difference is “The Weigh Down Diet” espouses the intuitive eating philosophy: Eat only when you’re really hungry, and then eat what it is your body is telling you it really wants. Then stop eating when you’re full. Also, pray, Shamblin adds. And both Rubin and Colbert push eating all-natural foods. Of course, both also have their own lines of natural products to help you do this.

Meantime, “Made to Crave” suggests only you find a healthy eating plan… because we have an eating problem, and it’s a spiritual problem.

TerKeurst writes:

Think of Eve and one of the first interactions recorded in the Bible between a woman and food. Obviously, the core of Eve’s temptation was she wanted to be like God, knowing good and evil. But we can’t ignore the fact that the serpent used food as a tool in the process. (Note: The emphasis is the author’s own.) If the very downfall of humanity was caused when Eve surrendered to a temptation to eat something she wasn’t supposed to eat, I do think our struggles with food are important to God.

I thought that was brilliant. (It also made me a little angry, mostly because of the special point this was one of the first interactions between a woman and food.)

But she has a point: Eve? Eating the fruit of the Tree of Life? Causing the fall of man? That episode comes right at the start — in the very first book of the Bible (Genesis 3), soon after the very creation of the world. TerKeurst also notes that another promise regarding food comes at the end of the Bible in Revelation, which is the very last book and gives a vision of heaven: “To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the Tree of Life, which is in the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7). Clearly, Satan does use food as a temptation, as he used the fruit of the Tree of Life. And those who are victorious over temptations, including food, are given the right to eat, even from the tree that at one time caused the fall of man. Other translations use “overcometh” or “conquers,” and the context makes pretty clear that means those who have persevered and have not grown weary of doing what is good and given in to temptations, as Eve did (see also Galations 6:9).

The main idea of TerKeurst’s book is that we are made to crave God — not food. We are made for more than to be stuck in a vicious cycle of defeat when it comes to what we eat. This also isn’t new. Using our cravings to turn our thoughts, rightly, to God is the thousands-year-old idea behind fasting. I was reminded of this again during the Ash Wednesday service last week at my church.

TerKeurst is very careful to speak this truth in love. I’ve read criticisms that she is too legalistic, and it’s true, there were points in the book when I wanted to scream, “Just eat the cake, Lysa. EAT THE CAKE.” But it helps if you realize from the start she was on an actual sugar fast while writing the book. And while she said she was targeting a certain weight as a measure of her progress, one of her mantras is the not-so-legalistic “I am a Jesus girl who can step on the scale and see the numbers as indication of how much my body weighs — not indication of my worth.” I’ve also read criticisms along the lines of, oh, great, according to this book, I’m not just a fat girl; I’m a fat girl with an idol. Well… yes. You are.

My criticisms are more along the lines of “I Like Big Butts and I Cannot Lie” comes from Sir Mix-A-Lot, not “the animated movie ‘Shark Tale,'” and the reason your husband categorized the song “Fat-Bottomed Girls” under “Queen” on his iPod is because that is a song by a band called Queen, not a playlist of songs about his queen, and SOMEHOW I THINK YOU KNOW THIS, LYSA. Engage the culture or don’t. Don’t get cute because you feel like you have to be so holy you’ve never listened to music produced by Not Michael W. Smith.

But I still valued the pep talk, listening to the audiobook of “Made to Crave” in my car on the way to work in the morning. And I think that’s the real strength of this book. TerKeurst writes:

While you’ll have to find a friend to either do a healthy eating plan with you or one who will pray you through it, let me be the friend that has journeyed ahead of you. Let me be that voice that reaches across your doubts to say, “If you follow the healthy eating plan you’ve chosen, it will work and it most certainly will be worth it.”

The book has launched a small group DVD study series. It’s launched a six-week weekly webcast, now replaying on demand Tuesdays on madetocrave.org. And, more than 21 days ago now, it launched the 21-day challenge, a series of daily devotionals delivered to your inbox. TerKeurst is that friend who has journeyed ahead of you. She shares her story. She invites friends at different points on that weight-loss journey to share their stories. And she invites you to share your story and your journey with other women.

“This is bringing a community together to learn and teach. Lysa brought that piece in,” said Katherine Lee, a guest on the first “Made to Crave” webcast.

“What’s been most powerful for me was the realization I was not alone.”

Lee’s story, as TerKeurst told it, was my story:

The first time she went through the weight loss journey, she did it so that she would be loved. The second time she went through the weight loss journey, this time, using the amazing truth of God’s word, reading ‘Made to Crave,’ she didn’t go through this journey to be healthy so that she would be loved. She did it because she was loved.

Somebody’s story will be your story. And that story will reach across your doubts and your minor annoyances with possibly feigned pop culture ignorance and tell you you’re not alone. If you stick with your healthy eating plan, it will work. And it will be worth it.

After all, there’s nothing new under the sun.

Disclaimer: Nobody sent us a free copy of this book to review (sadly). Emily bought the audiobook on our own because she loves books, and she loves investigating the latest craze because, well, she’s an investigative reporter and that’s what she does. If you would like Grace or Emily to consider reviewing your health- and wellness-related book, DVD, equipment, clothing, etc., contact Grace at leangirlsclub (at) gmail (dot) com.

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