Is eating very little, being finicky, and obsessing over health of food a form of gluttony?


#1

I am wondering, since I remember C.S. Lewis mentioning this in the Screwtape Letters, and see something under gluttony in the Catholic Encyclopedia, about consuming food too “daintily.”

Recently, for a number of reasons, I decided to be a lot more healthy and intentional in my eating, especially after noticing I was confessing gluttony with some regularity, due to overeating likely out of boredom and discouragement from being unemployed. I was seeking inordinate pleasure in food. Now I realize I don’t want to do that, and I’m focusing on a healthy diet, but also find myself mildly obsessing about calories. I’ve never done that before. The main reasons is that last fall and winter, I would think I was eating a normal amount but really be losing control of portion size and not having a realistic view of it.

Now I am getting to the point where I am not craving a lot of food. For example, fasting on Good Friday and still walking really far to the service was the easiest thing ever, without having the “normal meal.” I also am getting hyper aware of the effect of food, for example, I now have to make my own smoothies with lots of vegetables added because fruit alone makes me feel like I ate candy or dessert. I have almost totally dropped chocolate and all desserts and when I do break that I don’t like them. That wasn’t a deliberate thing, just a new roommate who influenced me, and I prefer life without much sugar. I used to have a major sweet tooth–we’re talking ice cream for breakfast.

My mild obsessing is concerning my slightly though, although I’m not cutting out any food groups except fake sugar. I’m not at risk for being underweight right now.

I do think it’s good that I’m not looking to food as my main source of emotional nourishment.

I should add-I also am choosing to fast a little bit, for prayer intentions and offerings. I am struggling because even on Easter Sunday, I ate way more than normal at the meal, and I ended up just not feeling well.

Above all, all I do not want to be committing some form of gluttony by over-focusing on food.


#2

It sounds more like you are in a time of awareness transition. It is a time when you are paying attention to what you consume and how it affects you. I go through that maybe once a year to re-educate myself on what I am really eating. “O ya, that muffin is 400 calories and most of it fat.” 'What? 40 grams of sugar in this soft drink?!?"

When we pay this kind of attention we learn a lot and it is shocking. And in this period we retrain ourrselves to know the good from the bad. Once that retraining is done we don’ have to be as concerned. We have developed a new habit of eating.


#3

No, Gluttonyis derived from the Latin%between% gluttire meaning to gulp down or swallow, means over-indulgence%between% and over-consumption of food, drink, or wealth items to the point of extravagance or waste.

What your subject question describes is the opposite of gluttony.


#4

There is such a thing as reverse gluttony, an overconcern with diet to the point that the rest of the life suffers. RG often leads to a level of selfrighteousness, as well.

ICXC NIKA


#5

What you describe is normal when making big changes in eating and lifestyle. If anything, you have a leaning toward scrupulosity. Talk to your confessor about it.


#6

Yes, I think so. In the same way that both presumption and despair are sins against Hope, I think both overeating and over-delicacy about food can be sins against Gluttony.

Whether the OP is there or not is a different question, but I have to say that the term “mild obsessing” sounds to me more like a precursor to an anxiety disorder* than like sin.

I would say that the things to take into consideration would be things like:

[LIST]
*]How much am I inconveniencing others by my pickiness about food?
*]Is my health being negatively affected?
*]How much of my time is being spent thinking about food (including thinking about not eating it)?
*]Am I becoming proud about food? For example, am I becoming a conniseur of especially expensive foods that I eat sparingly? Or am I refusing simple food provided by others because it doesn’t meet my standards? Or am I proud of my ability to avoid foods that so many people around me are eating too much of?
[/LIST]

I don’t think the OP is sinning, but it might be a good idea for her to revisit the idea occasionally in prayer, just because the Devil likes to try to move us toward sin, even through things that aren’t sinful in themselves.

–Jen

*I am not meaning to provide any medical diagnosis or anything like that.


#7

I think what you describe is possible, but you don’t seem to be guilty of it. Your issues sound a lot like mine. Some of us have to “obsess” a little or else we will consume food mindlessly and unhealthily.

I think the key sign of “reverse gluttony” is when you start to look down on others and put your food choices above relationships and charity.

Also, it’s quite possible for people who don’t have good health reasons to be picky to be obsessed with having the best kind of food–eating kale smoothies made from locally sourced organic kale, etc. There’s nothing wrong with those choices (I am a big advocate of locally sourced, organic food, for what I think are excellent moral reasons), but some people do seem to build their whole identity around eating “good” food instead of the “****” everyone else eats. That’s definitely something I’m tempted to do at times. From your brief account, it doesn’t seem to me that you are.

I think that one difficulty talking about gluttony, in either direction, is that poor food choices often have more to do with physical or mental health than with one’s moral/spiritual state per se. However, these things do affect each other. People who are either overweight or anorexic don’t need to be blamed or made to feel guilty.

Edwin


#8

I’m dubious about this. It sounds like another example of modern Political Correctness run amok again. Can you please provide a link to an authoritative reference to this, preferably something with a solid history and track record.


#9

Pope St. Gregory the Great distinguished five kinds of gluttony in his Moralia, and this is cited approvingly by Aquinas in ST II/II 148.4. One of the five kinds was seeking for expensive food, and another was eating “daintily”–which I think meant demanding all kinds of fancy spices and methods of cooking.

So gluttony has not, traditionally, been defined simply as overeating. It’s true that these traditional definitions don’t correspond exactly to “dieting,” but then dieting didn’t really exist in premodern times.

I also think your identification of this very sensible modern interpretation of traditional moral teaching as “political correctness” is rather weird, given that generally it’s folks on the liberal side of things who are most prone to this kind of “daintiness” in food.

Edwin


#10

Greed, pride, lust and envy typically are bigger vices for anorexics; no saying you are but something to examine your conscience on more. So if the primary reason a person is driven to obsess over nutrition is pride (the only way they prove to themselves that they are in control in out if control situation) then this prise may become glutinous by more obsession to control food to boost the pride.

In social situations it becomes a sign of being ungrateful. I remember being in the Philliapeans when I was 5 and my Dad made it very clear that he people we were visiting were poor and to reject their food was to reject them. I still try to follow this today which is challenging being married to a man who will cater to everyone’s needs. (You get what you get vs hospitality). God has indeed graced my husband.


#11

You sound like you are making more healthful choices for yourself. There’s nothing wrong with that! Now if you begin to loose weight to the point you are becoming underweight or are nutritionally deficient, then you have the reverse of gluttony. And yes, that would be sinful too. But I see no sin from your post.


#12

Wow, a lot of really interesting replies and insights here. I definitely agree with the idea that this kind of eating can result in related sins besides gluttony, such as pride, vanity, envy. I am thinking that maybe the sin that could result is also idolatry, because of making food, health, appearance, or human approval into something more important than God. And yes, it is shocking to realize the kind of stuff I was putting in my body.

Yes, it’s pretty bad. I feel the same way. Some restaurant food in particular.

[quote=MusherMaggie]What you describe is normal when making big changes in eating and lifestyle. If anything, you have a leaning toward scrupulosity. Talk to your confessor about it.

[/quote]

I lean in that direction generally, of being scrupulous. In this case it is compounded from high awareness of anorexia, from my past all girls high school, girls who ate lettuce for lunch, a friend who had to go to treatment several times, my mom knowing a lady who passed away after getting down to one egg per day, stories of people wanting to lose just a little and losing control, and parents in high school always being alert and warning us about it.

Helpful. Doing my best to not make others have to deal with any of it. Monday a friend invited me over last minute and I mentioned my large lunch and we had tea and walked instead of cooking, and she was fine with it. But, tonight I’m going out to eat and I knew in advance, so I decided to plan my day around it. Looked at the menu, picked something good, and eating only a little because I want to be hungry and enjoy the meal.

Time spent thinking is my main concern.

Definitely would like to avoid becoming a food snob or think I’m better than people who eat differently. Maybe will help to remember that I have eaten that way at different points. Ha, I will probably always be a dessert snob though because I was raised by an excellent dessert chef :slight_smile: But, I don’t talk about it usually.

Edwin, I agree. Sometimes it can seem like its own religion. I think they are fine choices too. I don’t want to start judging people who eat differently, either. Having almost no money in my last job really helps with that perspective…you can’t afford organic food or even fresh vegetables very much (in much of the U.S.) when you are broke, so I shouldn’t be one to judge.

[quote=Giggly Giraffe]In social situations it becomes a sign of being ungrateful. I remember being in the Philliapeans when I was 5 and my Dad made it very clear that he people we were visiting were poor and to reject their food was to reject them.
[/quote]

With some family friends, the mother from South America, I get the same insistence that I must eat more and more :slight_smile: I don’t mind because it is considered hospitality.

[quote=lake]You sound like you are making more healthful choices for yourself. There’s nothing wrong with that! Now if you begin to loose weight to the point you are becoming underweight or are nutritionally deficient, then you have the reverse of gluttony. And yes, that would be sinful too. But I see no sin from your post
[/quote]

I hope I can stay balanced. I have decided it is helpful to pray to my Guardian Angel to make good choices with eating. Won’t forget to eat if I’m lounging all day, or overeat if I’m out. Should help.


closed #13

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