Suzanne Fowler wants people to fill the hole in their hearts with God, not with food.
That's the premise of Fowler's Light Weigh program for weight loss, a program she created to solve her own struggles with eating.
"People are not going to food because they're physically hungry when they're overeating," Fowler said in an interview. "They're going to food because of a spiritual hunger. It's emotional. It's taking place in the heart."
Light Weigh is a 12-week Bible study and instructional DVD series designed for small groups at churches or in homes.
"I used to be 100 pounds more than I am now," said Fowler, who is based in Kansas City. "Light Weigh is a program that teaches you to eat real food in moderation. What we pursue in the Light Weigh is called peace with food."
Started in 1998, Light Weigh can be found all over the world, said Fowler.
In Ajax, Ont., Susan Kennedy runs one of about 10 Light Weigh groups across Canada. Operating out of a parish hall, Kennedy's fourth Light Weigh session began Jan. 10.
"Our participants really enjoy it," said Kennedy. "It's a whole different mindset. It gives you the freedom from food. . . . You become almost like a slave to food on some of these diet programs."
Light Weigh incorporates the strategy of portion control, she said. "You're allowed a certain amount. . . . So you could end up eating four or five times a day," she said.
The "peace with food" premise that Light Weigh advocates aims for a transformation of your interior along with your exterior.
"First, you achieve peace with God," said Fowler. "Peace with God moves to peace with yourself and peace with yourself moves to peace with food."
Fowler said she also wrote the program because she wanted people to fall back in love with the Church. "I felt God wanted people to know how much he did love them."
Light Weigh is a loving program, with no weigh-ins at the meetings, said Fowler.
But she recommends participants attend meetings and not try the program on their own.
"It is no small thing to overcome overeating. It really requires consistent effort. And so that's why the group meeting is so important," she said.
So many people feel hopeless about their eating and the Light Weigh program offers them hope, she said.
"I really thought I was a hopeless case . . . and I finally realized God has to have the answers," said Fowler.