Thursday, April 28, 2011

Gluttony: The Overlooked Sin

For years I told myself I didn't go to church because folk were fake, preachers were greedy, etc. As I became more mature spiritually, and began to really look at myself mentally and physically, I realized my soul was not being fed the word it needed to hear. My sin was gluttony. Preachers don't talk about gluttony. We all know why, most of them would have to sit in the audience because they are just as guilty when it comes to eating too much. I have not found a church yet that talks about gluttony in the proper context. The most you hear of it is when the other six deadly sins are mentioned and it is done in passing.

My 14 year old daughter is a glutton. She over-indulges and over-consumes food. The word gluttony derives from the Latin word gluttire which means to gulp down or swallow food, drink, or intoxicants to the point of waste.

At over 350 pounds, she is not only wasting food, but her life. She has been to many doctors, specialists, etc. They have wanted to insist she has been molested, or has low-self-esteem, neurotic, on and on. The real story? She eats too much and moves too less.

She has become addicted to food. When she was born, she was the smallest baby I had. I breast fed her and she ballooned within weeks. I knew the fat cells were ripe, so I purposely did not introduce table food to her. She was 2.5 years old before she had any spiced foods. It was my mother who could not stand the fact the child was almost three and never had "real food." She was the one to introduce her. I will never forget. It was Thanksgiving and we had all the trimmings. I came into the dining room and my mother had her on her lap feeding her. After the first bite, she was hooked. My mom was not feeding her fast enough, so my little future glutton, took both hands and grabbed the hot food stuffing it into her mouth.

Whenever a therapist asks me why I feel she is the way she is, I tell them this story. Her problem is like that of many of us, we eat too much, too often and at the wrong times. When allowed to prepare her own meals she always makes enough for three which she will promptly sit down and eat alone. When you confront her, she simply says, "I wanted that much."

If I feel guilty about anything, it is not knowing the effects of the white sugar, white pasta, white bread, would have on her body. She is insulin resistant which adds to her addiction because this disease makes you feel hungry all the time. Since I've gotten rid of the white stuff, she doesn't ask for food as much between meals. Still, she eats too much of the good stuff. So, I can buy strawberries and she'll use them all in a smoothie, or sit and eat out of the bag the grapes come in, instead of counting out the ten she should have which is equivalent to a serving size.

I remember clearly when I realized I was addicted to food. Having worked on a lot of my issues and feeling more balanced than I ever have, I still found myself eating too much. It was different than before because it wasn't triggered eating, but more of a habitual eating. So I clearly understood that even though I had worked out some of the emotions that were making me run to food, I had keep the habit of running to food with or without the emotions behind it. I was addicted and I had to work on that.

Seven years later I can say I have successful combated the food addiction that threatened my life. I no longer snack all the time and I can actually eat half a candy bar, or cookie. I can pass up stuff I would have "had to have a taste of." I conquered my misplaced desire for food.

I have hope for my daughter, or surgery which ever works before her 18th birthday. I am seeking an African-American therapist for her. The ones she has had in the past were not culturally equipped to deal with me as her parent. She is much more assimilated than I am which throws them off when they talk to me. Their passive aggressive way of dealing with her let her off the hook too much for my taste.

Gluttony is a sin. St. Gregory the Great, a doctor of the Church wrote of five ways one can commit the sin of gluttony:

1) Eating before the time of meals in order to satisfy the palate.
2) Seeking delicacies and better quality of food to gratify the "vile sense of taste."
3) Seeking after sauces and seasonings for the enjoyment of the palate.
4) Exceeding the necessary amount of food.
5)Taking food with too much eagerness, even when eating the proper amount, and even if the food is not luxurious.

Food is to the body, like gas is to an automobile, fuel. It is not meant to replace sex, or soothe angry feelings, or be our friend in times of need. Food kills just as many, or more than cigarettes, drink, or drugs. Gluttony is a sin.

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