Faith

Gutting Our Gluttony

The soul needs to command the body. Here's how.

We live in an environment in which everything is “super sized,” and there is usually an over-abundance of food and drink offered wherever we go.

Few Americans will face the risk of dying of hunger or dehydration, except perhaps those in extreme and dire poverty.

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Self-mastery with food and drink translates into self-mastery with your other passions.

Bishop Fulton Sheen reminds us of the perils of gluttonous behavior: “Gluttony is an inordinate indulgence in food or drink, and may manifest itself either in taking more than is necessary, or in taking it at the wrong time, or in taking it too luxuriously. It is sinful because reason demands that food and drink be taken for the necessities and conveniences of nature but not for pleasure alone.”

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I hope these tips are helpful for many people.

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1: The soul needs to command the body.
We are not merely “animals” but rational animals with an intellect and will that should control our instincts and base desires. Self-mastery with food and drink translates into self-mastery with your other passions, and this ensures a much better outcome in your human relations with others.

Self-mastery with food and drink translates into self-mastery with your other passions, and this ensures a much better outcome in your human relations with others.

Daily exercise also helps to form this overall self-discipline, and it will help you live a little longer and be healthier and more effective while you are around.

2: We should embrace our daily crosses with love and commitment and not look for “escapisms” in food and alcohol.
“But a true lover of Christ, and a diligent pursuer of virtue, does not hunt after comforts, nor seek such sensible sweetness’s, but is rather willing to bear strong trials and hard labors for Christ.” (The Imitation of Christ, Thomas a Kempis, II, 9, 3).

Related: Making Time for God

Although food or drink may offer a temporary respite, any excess or over dependence on food or drink will usually result in greater depression and other negative side effects such as weight gain and poor self-esteem. Although I personally love to occasionally order a “triple hamburger” at Wendy’s, my stomach and conscience tell me shortly afterwards that it was too much!

3: True peace comes from placing the spiritual realm in front of the material.
“There is no peace, therefore in the heart of a carnal man, nor in a man that is addicted to outward things; but only in a fervent spiritual man.” (The Imitation of Christ, Thomas a Kempis, II, 6, 2).

Worldly pleasures and enticements may put a temporary bandage on your anxiety or inner worries, but they do not bring peace. Peace is a gift that God gives to those who love him and put him at the center of their lives.

4: Try to eat a little more of the food you do not like and less of what you do like.
Not only is this is a great way to form self-control, you will probably never eat too much of the food you find distasteful. This also provides a wonderful opportunity to “offer it up” for a good intention.

Can you survive without a glass or two of wine every night? Are you afraid to tell your friends “no thank you” when they want to fill up your wine glass again and again at dinner parties?

5: Avoid addictions.
I see excessive alcohol consumption as a massive problem, especially where I work here in New York City, and it does so much damage to marriage, families and careers.

Related: The Trouble with Coed Drinking

Can you survive without a glass or two of wine every night? Are you afraid to tell your friends “no thank you” when they want to fill up your wine glass again and again at dinner parties? Why are we so concerned about what other people think? Or perhaps too many people simply fall into the habit of drinking far more than they should, then find it very hard to break that pattern.

If you need to go cold turkey, go cold turkey! Alcoholics Anonymous is also a viable option that provides a great support group to help you cope and overcome this problem.

Fr. Michael Sliney, LC, is a Catholic priest who is the New York chaplain of the Lumen Institute, an association of business and cultural leaders. 

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