When does gluttony become mortal?


I struggle with overeating/gluttony. I catch myself wondering when I’ll be hungry again and thinking about what’s in the fridge that I can eat when I am hungry again a lot. I’m fighting it, but it’s still a struggle, and I’m worried I may have lost the battle today:
My friend wanted to introduce me to this fast-food-type place that she likes and get cheese fries and shakes. I said I couldn’t have a shake because of Lent, but fries were fine. BUT after the fact I expanded my Lent to encompass all junk food and flavored drinks in attempt to curb this gluttony problem. But I didn’t want to seem holier-than-thou so I decided to just give something else up today.
Then this morning I didn’t plan ahead when I was having breakfast, I was enjoying my breakfast and I still had a couple hours so I kind of ignored it. Which might have been where I went wrong. Because when we went out for lunch I really wasn’t hungry. But my friend ordered me a giant cup of cheese fries, and I felt like I had to at least make a sizable dent in them to avoid being rude. But since I hadn’t planned ahead in the morning I felt a bit sick to my stomach afterwards. Not enough to get in the way of my day, but enough that I felt it.
Is that mortal? I know it’s a mortal sin to eat until you’re sick, but I’m not sure if that means just uncomfortable, or enough to actually make you throw up and/or physically impair you so you can’t do your normal stuff. Thank you for your help, especially if you’re a priest.


If you’re having issues with gluttony to the point it’s bothering you quite a bit why not make an appointment with your priest to discuss the issue of where the line is drawn between
mortal and venial sin?

I remember a beloved priest saying once the week before Easter… Well how did things go for everyone? Giving up things for Lent? Well he said he’d talked to many how difficult it is to let go of habits or addictions and “Welcome to the club” but he wanted to tell people
it was great they loved God enough to try to give up their “vice”.

So give yourself a break, dust yourself off and go forward doing the best you can knowing God loves you and understands our weaknesses and died for us for the hope of being with him in the next life. When we get to hard on ourselves I think it hinders are ability to go forward. That is my own personal thought though.




Praying for you.


I am not a priest but only a sinner but here is my MX$2 worth:

Lent is not a test, it is training. You don’t “fail” Lent and Lenten penances do not rise to the level of mortal sin.

By all means, bring this issue to your priest, if it is bothering you.



You over-ate a little because you didn’t want to be rude to your friend.

Not only is this not a mortal sin, but I struggle to see how it’s sinful at all.

Keep in mind that the feeling of having over-eaten, or even just being full, is usually something that follows eating, not something we experience directly as we eat. Most of us don’t realise we’ve overdone it until 10+ minutes after we have finished our meal. That’s just how our physiology tends to work (eg signals from the stomach that we’ve consumed enough). So don’t beat yourself up every time you eat a little too much.

More generally though, if issues of over-eating and potential gluttony are bothering you, as MaryT777 suggests you should seek guidance from your priest.


Reason, the virtue of temperance, and good judgement of conscience can guide one in ones eating. Though it is to be noted that what is contrary to temperance for one is not for another and as at least one Saint reminds us–this is a area that is a difficult one where many struggle.

Also note that often one is dealing with venial sin --not serious (an example of serious gluttony is loosing ones reason via being drunk…). It is important to note this for some get confused on this subject.

We should seek to live by virtue here and to eat reasonably…

Individual acts of overeating…intemperance (gluttony in this sense) are ordinarily a “venial matter” for venial sin…

(Now certain uncorrected habits that cause at least in the short term -serious problems -can become grave…like perhaps your doctor tells you if you keep eating 7 pieces of cake a day you will seriously harm your health or drop dead in three months…)

A confessor can assist one.


1809 Temperance is the moral virtue that moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. It ensures the will’s mastery over instincts and keeps desires within the limits of what is honorable. The temperate person directs the sensitive appetites toward what is good and maintains a healthy discretion: “Do not follow your inclination and strength, walking according to the desires of your heart.” Temperance is often praised in the Old Testament: “Do not follow your base desires, but restrain your appetites.” In the New Testament it is called “moderation” or “sobriety.” We ought “to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world.”



I struggle with gluttony also. I’ve done a ton of research on it - the Bible and the Church Fathers have so much to say about it.

First, per the Fathers there are 5 ways to commit the sin of gluttony:

  1. Eating when you’re not physically hungry
  2. Eating food that is expensive
  3. Eating foods that are highly processed “delicately prepared”
  4. Eating too quickly “ravenously”
  5. Eating beyond satiety

The Fathers also say that there are 3 acceptable degrees to eat without sin:

  1. Abstinence - eating, but remaining physically hungry after eating
  2. Adequacy - being neither hungry nor weighted down after eating
  3. Satiety - being slightly weighted down after eating - eating beyond this point is"madness" they say

The Fathers warn that those of us who stretch out our belly are not walking on the straight & narrow path.

4th Macabees, Sirach & Philippians are a great books in the Bible that address the sin of gluttony and give advise & encouragement & motivation to overcome it. And Step 14 of the Ladder of Divine Ascent by St. John of the Ladder is especially helpful! Also, on Ancient Faith Radio is a podcast by Rita called (I think) Faith, Food & Fasting that you could listen to.

  1. Prayer - especially the Jesus Prayer 2. Watchfulness over thoughts, 3. Bible reading, 4. Reading the lives of the Martyrs & Saints 5. Metanoias 6. Fasting 7. Physical labor (like household chores or gardening) are all ways taught by the Fathers as ways to battle any sinful passion or habit gluttony included. They also say specifically about gluttony that those of us who have received the Holy Spirit can entreat Him against it since nothing human can truly stamp it out.

Suggestion is to track which forms of gluttony you’re most prone to committing and confessing regularly when you fall.

To answer your question, I’ll end with the words of St. Gregory “Unless we first tame the enemy dwelling within us, namely our gluttonous appetite, we have not even stood up to engage in spiritual combat.” & “As long as the passion of gluttony had a hold on a man, all that he had done valiantly is forfeited by him. As long as the belly is unrestrained all virtue comes to naught.”

May God have mercy on my soul as I strive to win in the fight against gluttony!


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