Gluttony: The worship of food? Part 2

In Part 1 of this series we considered gluttony as a sin. Click here to read that post. Among other things we saw:

The Bible speaks indirectly to gluttony each time it speaks of self-control (self-discipline). Self-control, where food is concerned, is exhibited by not gluttonizing our meals. The Bible, incidentally, teaches us that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. When the Holy Spirit is controlling our lives self-control is an evidence of it. On a practical level this reveals a dramatic number of times we seem to sit at the table, quench the Spirit, and immediately lose control of our appetite.

One Hebrew word translated gluttons in the Old Testament is zalal which means “a riotous eater,” but can also figuratively mean “to have loose morals.” Would it be too far a stretch to call gluttony “the pornification of food”?

At the end of the post I promised a look at a biblical understanding of gluttony and some tools to help.

Perhaps it would have helped to have reworded “a biblical understanding” of gluttony to “a biblical awareness of how to respond to gluttony.” Having already understood that gluttony is a sin, how should we respond to it? If we are given to gluttony what should we do?

First, we should agree with what God said about gluttony. He’s revealed it as a sin, and we should not excuse it as bad manners or being “big boned.” 1 John 1:9 says to “confess our sins.” The word “confess” is from a Greek word that means “say the same thing as.” For example, “Yes, God, I agree with You that gluttony is a sin and I have sinned by committing it. Please forgive me.”

Second, commit to turn from (repent of) a gluttonous appetite. In this I’m not talking about will power or the power of positive thinking or positive confessions or any of that silliness. Instead, follow the scripture: “Whoever covers his sins shall not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Prov. 28:13). This means if I gluttonize, I should confess that sin and purpose before God not to do it again. This leads to…

Third, be filled with the Holy Spirit. When we are filled with the Spirit we do not sin. We move into disobedience, thereby sinning against God with our will before we ever do so with our knife and fork. To paraphrase the apostle James, “Every person is tempted when they are drawn away and enticed by their own desires” (1:14). We are “drawn away and enticed by our own desires” before we ever sin. From whom or what are we drawn away? “God is not tempted by evil and He Himself tempts no one” (v. 13). Our desires draw us away from God, and His indwelling Spirit, before we sin. God does not tempt us to sin; it is when we are drawn away from Him that we do so. Gluttony will not take place until our desire for more food has drawn us away from God’s guidance and strength.

If we remain obedient, entrusting our weakness to the Spirit’s strength, we can overcome the temptation to overeat. To clarify: This is not about “will power.” Will power is why we cannot do it. We need His power, and He offers it freely.

Finally, ask God for victory daily in all things, not just gluttony. God’s power is sufficient; focus on Him, not on failures and shortcomings. Repent quickly after sinning, and ask for the Spirit to fill you again.

Practically, there are a few things we can do after our attitude toward the sin of gluttony has been biblically realigned. These things should help us know when to put down the utensils and push back from the table.

First, eat healthy. Beside multiple side benefits, I know of no terribly obese people who get that way by gorging on carrots, lettuce, grilled chicken, cashews and water. The content of over-processed, highly sugared foods makes it easy to overeat. Sugar is in almost everything we eat and drink. (Watch King Corn if you doubt that. Or look at food labels.) Foods with fiber are more filling then food with carbs, generally are more nutritious and your body functions better as a result. (YouTube gives a warning for King Corn since it is unrated. There is nothing objectionable…except the truth.)

Second, serve yourself smaller portions. If gluttony has been ongoing, you know the size of portions that are problematic. Do not put as much on your plate, and do not go back for seconds. If you still feel hungry, drink water until you no longer are. If in a restaurant where enormous portions are served, ask for a to-go box halfway through the meal. Take half home to eat the next day.

Third, drink water and drink a lot of it. Water somehow helps you lose weight, and it also quashes hunger pains. Diet drinks typically will not help you lose. Especially when accompanied by a double cheeseburger. For an interesting study you might want to research findings that people who drink lots of diet drinks do not lose weight. Most of the time “hunger” pains are not because of hunger. They happen because we are accustomed to eating.

Fourth, use an app like My Fitness Pal to track caloric intake (click here for iPhone and click here for iPad). Plotting a track to a healthy weight and tracking every single thing I eat and drink (and exercise) has helped me immensely. No more afternoon binging on jelly beans, and less eating more than I should at meals. There is a boundary that helps me keep in mind where I should be rather than where I am tempted to be.

Fifth, exercise. This may not be true across the board, but I tend to eat less when I am exercising. My appetite gets more in line with what my body needs rather than what my stomach thinks it needs. It seems like eating is for replenishment rather than for comfort. My Fitness Pal estimates calorie burns for some forms of exercise, as do the similar apps MapMyRun and MapMyRide. Using tracking apps helps me keep in mind not to overeat and forfeit the benefit the exercise provides.

[DISCLAIMER: Nothing here should be construed as medical advice. The practical lessons I have learned from experience. If you are severely overweight or morbidly obese, seek the advice or a medical doctor, dietary professional, or both.]

Did I forget anything?

Marty Duren

Just a guy writing some things.