I struggle with habitual eating: snacking throughout the day, and over eating at meals on top of that. It was only a few months ago that I realized this could be a mortal sin, so I’ve been trying to overcome this awful habit. Im 25 years old and though ive gained weight from eating too much, I am not overweight at all. I do try to overcome it but my efforts are almost nonexistent. Often I will tell myself that this meal will be the last where I indulge then I will try to fast and mortify myself tomorrow…but then I give in again. I will go for a few days or more without overeating and be praying alot so that i am completely detached but then get back into it again. I feel as if im tortured with thoughts about food even in prayer and it is all just a big burden. With all this in mind, the last few days ive been giving into myself without struggleing against myself, snacking all day, but then at night I went out to eat with my dad and i really overate. I kind of tried not to but then just kept picking and felt uncomfortable after, of course. Then, when I got home the discomfort by that time had gone away but I still felt full…but I still continued to eat some of the leftovers we had and overate again. Is this a mortal sin?
Can overeating kill you? Yup, mortally sinful. I have good news though! God loves you too much to let that get in the way of your relationship with him. I’ll explain.
Satan prows about seeking those whom he may devour, and sure, if you stand on your own against him you will be surely devoured. I’ve heard it said that pride is so serious a sin, that God allows those who are Prideful to fall into more embarrassing sins since that more directly assists the person in addressing the more serious pride in their life. Sins of the flesh are not as serious as sins in the spirit. But there’s even more intricacy here. If you want to overcome sin in your life, the only action you are capable of producing is that action “through” God, because apart from him nothing can be done. He as the creator created all things, and sustains all things. You couldn’t even breath long enough to contemplate the nature of your sinful failings if he didn’t sustain you.
It’s tough sometimes to realize you are so weak that even the urge to resist sin is beyond your capacity. You can’t fix yourself. This realization I think is what makes the pain of Hell so real. For all of eternity, with maximal self abasement, with maximal initiative, you still can’t fix yourself. Sure, if you could only just fix yourself, the fires of Hell would stop burning, or maybe you could just alleviate a little of the pain. But nothing, all attempts are in vain, forever.
Now that you have something to contrast it against, here’s the good news. God loves you too much to let your failings get in the way. First, know that the moment you feel true sorrow for your sins, set to right your life, and confess your sins to a priest, you are forgiven. God is not bound by space and time, he knows your heart.
Secondly, I think Saint Claude De La Colombiere has helped me an awful lot on this area.
Act of Confidense in the Mercy of God
My God, I believe so firmly that You watch and care over all who hope in You, and nothing can be lacking to those who wait when we rely upon You in all things, that I have determined to live from now on without any concern, letting go and giving You all of my cares and anxieties. I will sleep and rest in peace because You, O Lord ! And only You, have secured my hope.(Ps F:9-10).
People can deprive me of worldly goods and reputation; illnesses can take away my strength and means to serve You; may myself lose Your grace by sinning; but I will not lose my trust in your Mercy; I will conserve it until the last moment of my life; and all the efforts from demons trying to take it away from me will be useless. I will sleep and rest in peace.
Others may seek happiness in their wealth, or their talents; others may trust in the innocence of their lives, or in the fervour of their penance, or the amount of their good works, or on the fervour of their prayers. As for myself Lord, all my confidence is my confidence itself.
Because You Lord only You have secured my hope. This confidence has never been in vain. No one has hoped in the Lord and has been disappointed. (Sirach 2:6-10)
Therefore, I’m sure that I will be eternally happy with You because I firmly hope for it and because all my Hope is only in You, in your Mercy and Omnipotence, I hope you will bring me to the holiness you have eternally wanted for me. Oh, My God in Whom I expect all. In you I hope Lord and never will I be confounded. (Ps 30,2; 70,1)
I know, alas! I know but too well that I’m weak, fragile, unstable and inconstant, I know too well the power of temptations against the strongest virtue; I have seen stars fall from heaven, and pillars from the firmament collapse; but these things alarm me not.
As long as I maintain firm my hope in You, I will be sheltered from all the misfortunes; and I’m sure that my trust shall endure, for I rely upon You to sustain this unfailing hope.
Finally, I know that I will never hope from You too much; that I cannot exceed your Bounty and Power, and that I will never receive less than I have hoped for from You. Therefore I hope that Thou wilt sustain me against my evil inclinations; that Thou wilt protect me against the most furious assaults of the evil one, and that Thou wilt cause my weakness to triumph over my most powerful enemies.
I hope that You wilt never cease to love me, and that I shall love You too unceasingly. To take once and for all my hope as far as it can reach: I hope to posses You now and for all eternity. I hope in You and only in You! Oh My Creator! “In Thee, O Lord, have I hoped; let me never be confounded.” Amen
Saint Claude De La Colombiere, SJ. (1641-1682)
“All the sins I have committed are nothing compared with the evil I commit when I distrust of the infinite Mercy of God for me, revealed int he cross of Jesus”
“The more miserable we are or feel, the more glory we give God by putting all our trust in Him, in his Mercy and Power.”
“To remember my sins is useless and harmful if they don’t bring me to praise the Mercy of my Father full of compassion had and has for me.”
I struggled with gluttony as soon as I began to overcome my addiction to pornography. It wasn’t until I realized that my attempts to fix this behavior were because I was embarrassed about them did I realize my error. My error was thus: I shouldn’t be trying to fix them just because I’m embarrassed of myself - that’s just being selfish. I should have been embarrassed because I loved God so little in those moments that I chose myself over Him. I don’t fight these sins now, I seek God, and the temptations were removed from me. I get tempted beyond my ability to resist now only when I willfully stop seeking God long enough for the Devil to put his shoe in the door.
Seek God first, take no time to contemplate anything else. Learn the Lords will for you and do it without hesitation, if you have to guess at what that might be, then guess! Willfully and faithfully hold your hope in the forefront of your mind all the day, and even when you fail, continue to do the right thing if only because God deserves it. If your faith is a lamp, hold that sucker like a blazing torch high over your head even when your exhausted. It is your source of strength, not bodily, but spiritual.
Habitual overeating is an addiction. This means that there is a mental illness/emotional illness involved. It’s not a “mortal sin” to be addicted any more than it is a mortal sin to be depressed or paranoic or have any other form of mental or emotional illness.
There is no easy answer for the addiction to food/overeating. All other addictions involve things that you can live without (e.g., alcohol, drugs, tobacco/nicotine, gambling, sex). But you can’t live without food. You can’t abstain from food for the rest of your life.
There’s no magic prayer that you can pray that will instantly deliver you from the addiction to food/overeating. I wish there was. I would pray it.
No magic charm. No “super diet” that will end your cravings. Exercise might help, but there is no way that exercise will replace the thrill of biting into whatever food is your trigger.
It’s a really reall tough addiction to beat, and chances are good that for the rest of your life you will struggle, fall, get up and start over, fall again, and repeat many times throughout your life. And as soon as you do gain control over the overeating, there’s a good chance another addiction will pop up to take its place.
I wish my post were more cheerful.
I’ve confessed it on occasion.
Overeating can be associated with the sin of gluttony. However, we now know that there are many psychological and physiological reasons behind over-eating, and thus this problem has medical aspects you should look into with your physician.
One thing you can do in the meantime would be change what you snack on. If you head for chips, cookies, candy…stop. Change to slices of apple, carrots and celery, nuts, raisins or other veggies and fruits. They are healthier, will supply needed nutrients and may curb your appetite.
Over eating can become a habit, so working to stop is a good thing. You just might need some help getting there. Take it from someone who used to be thin and of healthy weight: Getting into bad eating habits can cost you dearly. You don’t want to become obese for sure as it leads to many other health problems and is way harder to get rid of than getting there. (Doing that now. Eeek.)
And that is why I belong to OA - Overeaters Anonymous. There are a couple of other 12-step programs for people with food problems. It has been a big help to me, but one does have to work the steps. As many long-time members will tell you, just attending meetings doesn’t do it. Tho some of us are slower than others. I’ve been a member for a year now and I’m only on step 4. But I have done bits & pieces of the other steps. In this past year I have learned to use the tools to help with my food addiction, and at the same time I’ve lost over 40 pounds
As Cat said, one can’t live without food, so that does make it more difficult. Twenty-some years ago I quit a 3 pack a day tobacco habit of twenty years. It wasn’t easy, but it’s harder to be abstinent about food. While no one would offer me a cigarette, or tell an alcoholic that just one drink won’t hurt, people have no compunctions about telling a food addict, “Come on, just one cookie (slice of cake, pie, candy, potato chip, nut, whatever) won’t kill you.” It is hard to keep saying NO.
If you live in a city you may find multiple OA & other 12-Step meetings. Find one where you are comfortable and “keep coming back!”
I dont consider my problem an addiction though. I amm a firm believer in prayer healing all wounds. And it is true because when I pray more, the temptation goes away to the point that I dont even want to eat at all…even if im hungry. “Earth has no wound that heaven cannot heal.” -st thomas moore. Plus, it is so much more of a temptation now in a society that provides the best foods on every corner. I dont think what I have is an addiction but a temptation. Also, I dont overeat on potato chips and pizza. Its usually fruit, oatmeal, veggies, cheese and nuts…that kind of stuff…although it was my occassional spaghetti bolognese! I am so grateful to all of the answers but my question was whether it was a mortal sin or not…I got mixed answers. I think I have to consult a priest.
If you do not have an addiction or other food-related problem, if you are deliberately overeating, then yes, it seems to me it would be a sin. Talking to your priest is a good idea.
Also, if your cardiologist or nutritionist advises you to lose weight or go easy on sugar and fats, I think that should be taken into consideration.