Is eating "fancy" food sinful?

Salvete, omnes!

I have recently been reading in the early Church Fathers and am finding a quite consistent near revulsion to “fancy” food (or “delicacies”/“deliciae”). It seems that very many of them thought that Christians should abstain from/avoid them altogether.

So, then, why would they think this? Is it sinful to eat “fancy food”, as long as you’re not doing it wastefully or absolutely having to have it to be content?

It doesn’t seem that the Church is these days too concerned with it, but it even seems that Aquinas considered eating fancily as a form of gluttony.

Indeed, could not this seemingly universal condemnation of eating “fancy” cuisine be considered some manifestation of a “sensus fidei/fidelium” and thus sent by the Holy Spirit? Either particularly for that time and/or for today, though I suppose today, that notion seems to have faded away (though perhaps either of these could be blamed on some cultural influence either outside of or within the Church)? Is there any reason why Christians in early times would’ve been forbidden (were they technically “forbidden” by decree of the Church?) or at least why they turned away from delicacies? Was it, even then, perhaps a too-strict interpretation of gluttony/lack of moderation or something like that? would Christians, because of this “sense” (whether “fidei” or not) throughout the Church, be required not to eat fancy food, even if they could well afford it?

I do recall reading somewhere where it was believed that the early Church was indeed “too strict” when it came to some matters and that folks did eventually “loosen up” on them…


Please set forth with specificity exactly who these early fathers were and exactly what they wrote. It’s impossible to have a debate with someone’s recollections.

As I recall, Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding at Cana, and not just any wine, but really, really good wine - even though the guests may not have been able to tell the difference.

If “fancy food” is a sin then Father Leo on EWTN is so soooo guilty…not. He makes cooking an art, but is not advocating gluttony. Good food is to be shared with friends family and when possible with in need. Peace

I guess it depends on what the food is.

For example, some rich people eat endangered animals because of the novelty of it (it’s called “Bushmeat” and it’s a big problem in continents like Africa and Asia).

Another example is the trend among rich people of putting gold flakes on their food; gold is a metal that is indigestible, holds no nutrition, and is virtually tasteless. Rich people put it on food to separate themselves from the peasants.

Things like that are sinful, but I don’t think anyone’s distancing themselves from God just by eating caviar or something else that is expensive yet ultimately harmless in-and-of-itself.

Not in itself. Several factors must be considered e.g. is it beyond my means? Is it habitual? Is it a special occasion? Do I have an inordinate attachment? etc.

Many holy people have eaten beautiful food that was placed before them, and on occasion they even desired a little treat. St. Teresa enjoyed partridge; Sr. Yvonne-Aimee enjoyed sweets…

We should be childlike. We can enjoyed God’s gifts from time to time, but we shouldn’t let them distract us from God, Who gives them.

Bl. Dina Belanger said that she would rather - out of obedience - eat some fruit that was given her, than refuse it out of self-will. Sometimes “fancy” food (a somewhat relative term) is all that is available. When this isn’t the case, we should generally opt for what is relatively healthy and affordable.

No! No! No!

This is a moral question. As such, the answer lies in the three fonts of morality.

So, while you want a yes or a no, the answer is “maybe”. It is “maybe” because you must look at **all three fonts of morality **to discern the specifics of the case-- hypotheticals are no good here.

You form your conscience and then you act.

Scripture is one part of the picture Misty. The Catholic faith is not “sola scriptura”. Nor do we take simply one verse or one idea apart from the mind of the Church and the whole of her teachings.

There is a reason why holy days are called feasts. Also there is the verse in the Old Testament about a prophet exhorting the people of Israel to cease mourning and weeping and eat rich foods, saying rejoicing in the Lord should be their strength. I forgot what prophet it is. Then there are the stories of Jesus feeding the crowds.

There are times for fasting and times for feasting.

I have eaten at Mcdonalds and at expense restaurants, more at Mickeydees. And I have found that basically most foods are the same. The differerence is the sauce, and some ingridients like caviar and truffles. You can pay a lot for atmosphere.

In my view we sometimes read or hear about ascetic or renunciate practices observed by religious or spiritual leaders and in wanting to be holy like we believe they are we forget that we are lay persons or householders and our practices are different than theirs are or were and are meant to be that way.
If our situation changes then possibly we can adopt a more ascetic lifestyle. Living much more simply with our choices of food-flavorings or amount, etc… as well as any number of other aspects of our lives. Blessings to all.

Above, you seem to imply that the frequency with which we consume “fancy” food is an issue.

However, if one is wealthy enough to afford it as well as to give sufficient amounts of the Church and/or the poor, what is wrong with eating even fancy food rather often? I mean, as long as our attachment to it isn’t excessive…

Perhaps in the texts I have encountered, the writers were writing about their own ascetic practice or writing to other ascetics. It has been a while since I recall reading on this subject, so, today, I am not 100% clear on context, etc.

I don’t think I ever recall any direct command to avoid “fancy” foods, just suggestions or narrative that the authors did so. However, there did seem to be some kind of aversion to such.

If a leader ofthe Church, especially in the early days, practiced not eating “fancy” foods or even advised it, I am wondering if this would count as some kind of official magisterial teaching that was binding (at that time, anyway, as, as I understand ti, there was not so much of an official teaching structure in the Church at that time as there is today).

I believe there are other reasons for ingesting gold too, I read a long article on this awhile back, it was pretty interesting some of the facts on eating gold.

I do not think it is a sin unless fancy foods are consumed excessively.

Define “excessive”. I mean, if you can afford to have it a lot, why not have it?

Excessive means consumption that is seriously bad for your health.

The phrase inordinate attachment says a lot.

Then there is possibly: is one badly overdoing sweet things continually and getting a bad health condition from it.

Then there is one’s budget. And one’s own skills of course.

I love bread butter and plain mild cheese and I’ve discovered cheap chutney to my taste. And decent tea, which I make sure of buying, is cheaper than my old beer.

Or a cheap ready cottage pie. Every now and again I go for an expensive moussaka.

I love my wonderful living space. And my favourite eating haunts.

I can afford to go to a restaurant with someone occasionally.

It certainly varies according to one’s budget.

One shouldn’t give oneself a bad conscience if one is eating well-ish as part of making oneself feel safe (a phase many of us have to go through after some heavy going experiences).

Start with what you enjoy and thank God for it! He cares for our bodies and our concretes! We depend on this every day!

If you are into “chicken tikka lasagne” all power to you! :wink:


None of the writings that you are (presumably, since you don’t cite any) referring to are authoritive or magesterial. While Pope Gregory and then Thomas Aquinas spoke of gluttony in the way you note, the Church has never officially taken up their specific teachings.

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