The Weighty Issue of Weight


I received this email recently:

Hi Lynn I am hoping you can help to approach a sensitive topic in the life of a teenage girl. She is very overweight and has low self esteem due to the fact of her weight. I love her dearly and I have tried encouraging her to exercise and diet without trying to make her feel uncomfortable but it doesn’t seems to be working. I do care about her health and am very concerned for her, but I am afraid I don’t know how to help her or even reach the part of her that wants to change her situation and get more health conscious. Please help me help her.

Dear friend, I decided that this was one question I just had to bring my oldest girl, Mariah, in on. Mariah is 18 and a senior in high school.

Mariah said the answer is “nothing”.

Her reasoning was exactly the same as it is for us.

You can’t make someone want to change. They have to want it for themselves.

Think about the things in our lives that we need to change.

Around mid-February, I quit working out. My work out partner got sick and was unable to work out with me. That seemed a good enough reason for me to not work out either! I watched my daughter begin a work out regiment. Encouraged my husband each time he headed up to our bonus room with his InsanityΒ video tapes, but I did nothing to join either one of them. I didn’t want to. In fact, in the past week, I still only worked out twice. The thing that has to change is my want to.

And that is just something we can’t give to another person. They have to want to want to themselves! (You’ll have to read that one out loud to get it!)

In fact, Mariah said that the more we point out when our kids are eating wrong or being sedentary, the sadder or depressed they become and just dig down in that hole deeper.

But, we are not hopeless! We can pray, which is huge! God can do what we can never do with a million talking ‘tos.

We can live out a life where we have our cravings filled by the maker of our cravings…Jesus!

We can model eating right and working out too! (Preaching to myself now!)

You know I am also a huge advocate for doing Bible studies with our girls. Lysa TerKeurst’s “Made to Crave for Young Women”Β would be a great study to do with your girl. It’s not just about craving food, but shopping, boys…anything to fill that craving heart.

Today, I’m giving away a copy of “Made to Crave for Young Women”. To enter the drawing to win a copy, simply go to comment on the one thing your girl turns to to fill the craving in her heart. And if life is just too busy, simply say, “I’m in!” I’ll announce the winner next Monday.



  1. Yvonne Barreras says:

    My daughter is 22 and has always struggled with her weight. Unfortunately I did what my mother always did and that was to keep baked goods available and they became comfort.

  2. My daughter, like her mother, turns to chocolate and sweets, and is struggling with the same issues I have all my life. I have done the Made to Crave and it has helped me tremendously and I would love for my daughter to do this Made to Crave for Young Women, and more than that she asked me for it! Praise God!

  3. Mary Disney says:

    My daughter turns to shopping to fill her crave!

  4. Melissa Beck says:

    I’m in…….

  5. I really needed this today. My husband and I had a huge fight last night over this very issue. We are constantly trying to reach our daughter about her eating behavior but never seem to reach her. I feel all alone in her struggle and that I’ve tried everything I can. As parents we tend to look toward our old emotional scars from being ‘chunky’ kids and stress her out even more. I apologized to her this morning for pushing my emotions on her and that I love her for the person she is, not the person I think she should be. I pray that she finds that spark in her confidence to stop seeking comfort in food and for God to give me the strength to support her completely.

  6. My daughters turn to approval from others to fill their hearts. If you say “good job” to one girl, the other will ask “aren’t I doing a good job? Why did you say good job to her but not to me?” I try to be encouraging to my daughters but they don’t need a pat on the back all the time, every time, and any time that someone else gets one. It’s a difficult undertaking, raising daughters.

  7. I’ve read several of Lysa’s books for women. As the mother of two daughters, I’d love to do a Bible study with them. I’m in!

  8. Thank you for your insight. My sweet girl tends to turn to food whenever she has had a hard day and I would love to start to encourage her with the bible study by Lysa.

  9. anything. plugged. in. πŸ™ as a step-parent — the double set of rules is super frustrating. { great giveaway! }

  10. gina boggan says:

    well i thought when you said your girl you were talking about “the monthly” and i don’t have that anymore but oh when i did i craved salty things and even though i don’t have it now i still crave salty things, it could be chips, nuts, potatoes, anything of that and i’ve struggled my whole life with my weight so i would love to have a copy….

    thanks for reading and God Bless You….

    Gina S. Boggan

    1. Lynn Cowell says:

      Hey Gina…no, Mariah wasn’t talking about her period. We’re just saying in life in general. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Ginger Pearson says:

    I am so in!!! I needed this today!!!
    Thank you

  12. My daughter is only 5, but one of the things I turned to is either food or tv. And like your daughter said, the more people point out what I should change, the more frustrated I get and dig deeper in my failures. I find that the most successful way is when i want it for myself. And you know, I feel like people don’t have the courage to let their dear ones fail, so that they can meet Jesus at their lowest point and pick themselves up.


    1. Lynn Cowell says:

      Wow, Lynn! Your comment speaks to me on more levels than just one! I often want to do all I can to “prop” others up and it just doesn’t work does it? Thank you!

  13. My daughter usually turns to her ipod or just goes to her room to be by herself.

  14. Sheila McIllwain says:

    My daughter turns to food, well she obviously learned from me. It has come down from generations, I have been trying to change myself and talk to her about her choices. I am IN!

  15. Charlene Smith says:

    My girls turn to social media. Facebook,twitter and whatever else is out there.

  16. I’m in–your daughter has such a great perspective on those thoughts! My daughter is 11 and I already see these emotions stirring up within her.

    1. Lynn Cowell says:

      Marie, Mariah has this perspective because of her own personal struggles (and her mom and dads struggle to help her!) It was good for me to hear this from Mariah as well!

  17. I am so encouraged by your desire to reach young women in all areas of their life. My daughter is only 11, but I have heard her say that she is nothing without a boyfriend. She got upset at school on valentine’s day when several other girls got flowers from their so-called boyfriends. This is an 11 year old. Did I mention that she is overweight and has low self-esteem? She thinks she can dress like “skinny” girls and by that I mean form-fitting or snug clothing. It, of course, doesn’t look that nice and when I try to bring it to her attention, I just hurt her. This is not what I want to do…I just don’t know how to approach it. I long for her to see her self-worth through the eyes of our Savior and to be satisifed with who she is, “boyfriend” or not. This book would be so helpful! Please keep us both in your prayers! Thank you.

  18. Sari Kamppi says:

    I gave birth to my daughter 18 years ago, She felt the sting of rejection for the first time at 3 months of age when her father decided he was not ready to be a dad. God led me to a wonderful Godly man whom I married when she was 7, but she still hungers for the relationship with her real father. Over the years, she made some friends but the two closest friends she made, moved overseas as their parents followed God’s call for their lives and she suffered/felt rejection again. This really affected her self esteem and she began to think that it was because of her that everyone ‘left’. Unfortunately she also inherited my body shape and is not voluptuous like other girls and this too she sees as a reason that she doesn’t ‘fit in’. Even in church circles she feels like she is different as she is the only one in our church her age and also the only one from a blended family. Over the years she began to spend time on the internet and now makes videos on youtube (thank you Jesus that they are modest and encouraging). There she has found the acceptance that she craves πŸ™

    I pray daily that she would find the acceptance and love she craves in the only one who can really fill the craving she has in her heart – Jesus.

  19. Shawndell Gleese says:

    My daughters try to fill that acceptance tank with boys and “likes” on facebook. I believe “Made to Crave” would be an excellent Bible study for us. Thanks for your blog and for your giveways. πŸ™‚

  20. I can so relate to this. I know I need to be more active and eat better but I just haven’t been at all interested in making any changes to my life so listening to all the advice and counsel from others has been useless because I knew I just wasn’t there. Recently I’ve had some of my medications changed and I have so much more energy! Now I AM interested and so I have started to make changes. No one could make me interested until I got to that place myself. Thanks for naming that. Thanks for the reminder too because I never thought to apply that to my parenting. It’s really about heart change, isn’t it? And that’s Jesus’ specialty!

  21. Rebecca Anthony says:

    Thank you for this blog. I do try to model healthy eating, provide good food options for my family, and to turn hard to the Lord to fill my empty spots – rather than with food as I have done in the past. And when my teen girl is struggling, not only with diet, clothes, school and more, I’m learning to love her, enjoy her, support her, to pray for her, to give hugs generously and advice in very measured doses.

  22. Ann Harmon says:

    I have four daughters, all teens. Each one of them turn to something different to fill their “cravings of the heart”. Destiny, my youngest, is not quite the teen but she is close, and she turns to running. She is my outdoors girl, when she cant run, she likes to be involved in Girl Scouts, things that she can be actively doing. Charity turns to hugging everybody. Yes hugs are great, but I am trying to teach personal space, and I feel hugging complete strangers may be seen as a tad weird. I personally love hugs but I am sure in our world today hugs to complete strangers signify stalker want a be. She is my very sensitive girl and is very insincere with her body even though she is thin, she just thinks she is ugly and I keep telling her God doesn’t do ugly, everything is beautiful in God’s eyes. Bobbie turns to video games, she is constantly do her video games, I feel that it is her escape from reality. She is special needs and I think she gets bullied a lot at school but will not tell us so. The things with having sisters at the same school I hear what happens, and try to talk to her about it. Breezy is my oldest, she fills her heart cravings by going to play chess at the local Veteran’s home. She adopted a resident as a grandfather figure and has been going every week for two years.

  23. My 12 year old daughter has recently started wanting to eat or to shop when she’s feeling down. I try to explain to her that these aren’t healthy behaviors and that they won’t make her feel better. Unfortunately, like most kids, she thinks that her parents don’t understand what she’s going through so I’m not sure how to really get her to understand that these can turn into harmful coping strategies.

    1. Lynn Cowell says:

      Hi Mindy…I do believe as moms we have the most influence in our daughters lives, but hearing truth from additional persons/resources is really helpful as well! I hope this book, as well as other powerful books for young woman, will be helpful!

  24. I’ve lost my “want to” and need something to jumpstart me along the way. So I’m in with fingers crossed. πŸ™‚

  25. Thank you for your post Lynn! My daughter is only 8 and we have not had to discuss these types of issues in our home yet, but I am an advisor for a local chapter of a group called “Girl Talk” and I know your book would help me know what to say to the girls in my group there! Girl Talk is a peer-to-peer mentoring program for high school and middle school girls. It was started by a woman named Haley Kilpatrick when she was just 15. That was 10 years ago and there are now Girl Talk chapters in 43 states! I know that topics like weight and body image and self-esteem are going to come up with the girls in my chapter and I would love to read your book so I know what I can say to them to help them. Hopefully the things I learn through Girl Talk will help me when my daughter is a little older when we need to talk about the same issues at home!

    1. Lynn Cowell says:

      Amy, thank you so much for investing in young women! Girls desperately need mentors in their lives…thank you for making this a priority!

      For more free resources, be sure to check out my “freebies” page too!

  26. I know what to do and was doing so good last year, but lost my mama last year (it will be a year this coming Sunday) and then also my dog of 12 years at the end of November. My mama was my encourager and my Orphie was my walking buddy, regardless of the weather! It has been so hard to get back on track. So . . . I’m in!!!

    1. Lynn Cowell says:

      June, you are not alone as many of us use food as comfort! Jesus, help us to turn to you instead!

  27. 2 Marriages…a bruised body ‘n soul and one big broken heart. but, I am proud and confidently say that by my Father’s Grace, she still fights for her life..and is hopefull’ n eagerly awaits the future.

    . Yes it has been a long painful journey…but bit by bit, day by day,God continues to talk to her,mould her, teach her….fill her heart up with the love she craved for and sought after in her marriage. today she is learning. that only HE can be the one true love she has ben lookin for all her life.

    She was always a giving compassionate person….today i see how her pain had ignited a fire in her soul that wants to fight to those less fortunate than her. Every time she tlaks, she tlaks about how she wants to go serve in poor countries of the world. change the lives of battered and women’n children who have endured or still live in prostitution and abuse. I guess thats all she can do now to fill her empty spaces is to feel the pain of ohers. I pray God sees her heart and chooses to use her as HE sees her capable of.

    She always says to me ” God does not call the equippped. He equips the called. ”

    Thank you Lord Jesus for ur grace and strength in her life.


  28. My parenting now is with adult children–and with the child in me that was quieted for too long. Your reminder that “God can do what we could never do” even in talking to ourselves is very comforting. I have read parts of Lysa’s book & had considered picking it up again. It is an excellent look at that craving I fill with food instead of Him.

  29. As a young adult I constantly struggle with weight and self esteem issues since I was 12 πŸ™ One thing I turn to turn to saldy is junk food I would love to see what this Made to crave book is about! Thanks

  30. My daughter fills her needs with sweets (especially ones we receive from the US) & friendships. She is seeking to fill her heart & mind with godly things & has been diligent to read a devotion & the Bible every morning. We are cross-cultural workers & she attends a small Christian school. Unfortunately, she has experienced some really ugly things at this school & has had few options for different friends or outlets (she has 5 girls in her class)! She has felt the burn of rejection, the sharp words of those that seem to want to put out the light that lives within her, felt the fear of sexual harassment, & the lack of understanding from those in leadership. I think at times, she has felt unsure what or where to turn for fulfillment. I have done the Made to Crave study & LOVED it! I am excited there is one for young women! What a blessing! I would LOVE to win one for her!

  31. My daughter tends to skip meals & I think it could be she sees me struggle with my weight. Lisa’s book would encourage us to grow together in God’s word & in eating healthier!! Thank u for encouraging young women & their moms!!

    1. Lynn Cowell says:

      Cydni, I think a lot of girls do that. At least that is what I hear from my girls. We really need to teach them what a sure way that is to mess up their metobolisim!

  32. Jenny Rutan says:

    I have struggled with this too. My daughter is 14 and very over weight, she has self-esteem issues. I try to encourage her, and to help her eat right and work out but to no avail. The book would be an awesome read, maybe it would not only get into her mind but also her heart. God bless you.

  33. My precious daughter will be 11 in a few months. I have found that she puts the pressure of “perfectionism” on herself. I am a big believer in “nobody is perfect”. I grew up myself with the same goal to please everyone, be all things to all people and always appear perfect. The problem is I “appeared” to be and on the inside I was completely torn apart because I wasn’t perfect. Thank God, after traveling down a long road of low self esteem, I let God rescue me. I see the same pressure in my daughter no matter what I try to tell her. I want her to strive to be Godly with the knowledge that only He is perfect! She will make mistakes, but her perfect Saviour will always be there to pick her up and help dust her off and put her back on track.

  34. I can relate! I have gained and lost the same 50 pounds over and over throughout my life and now I see my daughter beginning to develop the very same characteristic! I tried to fill the void with food, then boys, then alcohol! I wish that she could learn from my mistakes, but unfortunately, people have to learn from their own mistakes, which is heartbreaking for a mother. She is at college in a nursing program now, her first year. She has agreed to do this study with me, and said she’d ask several of her classmates if they’d like to join us! Looking forward to it!

  35. I’m in too! πŸ˜‰

  36. She uses food, peer acceptance, and likes on instagram. Would love to do this book with her!

  37. Derricka H says:

    I’m in! But I gotta say that my daughter has chosen to fill her heart with music. So thankful for all the piano and voice lessons through the years that have given her something to turn to in life’s struggles.

  38. I’m going through Made to Crave with a group of great ladies. I’d LOVE to do the study with my daughter. She has a heart for God, but needs to learn how to practically apply obedience in these areas to her walk (don’t we all?).

    Please count us in!

  39. This is an issue that I struggled with as a teen, and frankly, still do. My parents tried everything to influence my eating behaviors. Looking back, I know that I did not have an issue with food, until they made it an issue. I was developing and growing as a normal teenage girl does when her body is going through changes. But, because my parents couldn’t see that, they began making comments about everything that I ate and every activity that I did or did not do. I developed a relationship with food for comfort, and sadly, still am in that bondage. I see my fourteen year old daughter turning to food for comfort and it scares me. I can’t deal with this issue with her when I haven’t dealt with it myself. Perhaps this is something that we could do together and maybe this is the help we need. I’d love the opportunity to experience this study with her. Thank you for yours, and Mariah’s, insight into this issue. Thank you for giving away a study that will be of help to a mother and daughter.

  40. Thank you for offering such a wonderful opportunity! As the mother of three, very fast growing daughters, I am often wondering how to help them find their fulfillment in God. I know that I am not always the best model as I often turn to food myself.

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