One of the most serious problems modern America is that of GLUTTONY.  What then is “Gluttony”?  A concise and practical definition of Gluttony is the following: “ it is a disordered desire to eat and drink.”

Here is the key question:  “Do you live to eat or eat to live?   If you live only to eat then you are a “Glutton”.  St. Paul describes it as the “God of the stomach”!  But, if it is such, that you eat to live, then that is the practice of one of the four moral/cardinal virtues called “Temperance”.

Health clubs, diets, eating menus and recipes, even expensive operations have all been designed to help the overweight, due to gluttony, to lose those pounds and foster more healthy living.


1.     ORIGINAL SIN.   As a result of Original Sin inherited from Adam and Eve, there is a disorder in the human heart and one of these is gluttony—the desire to eat or drink too much. Interesting note:  Adam and Eve’s Original Sin was that of disobedience but also gluttony—they ate what they should not have eaten.

2.    FAMILY TRAIT.    Frequently parents who have no self-control in their eating habits will transmit this to their children. No set eating times, eating out all the time,a bad diet--- all these contribute to bad eating habits and gluttony, transmitted and passed on to the children!

3.    SOCIETY OF ABUNDANCE.   In most parts of the world food is actually a scarcity.  Many children die of hunger every day—as much as 4000 according to modern statistics.   Not so in the United States.  A perennial problem of parents is too throw out old food almost every week.  What is thrown in the garbage in the United States would be gladly  “blessed” and eaten in many other countries.

4.    GLUTTONY PROMOTED!   With the abundance of food, is united the promotion of eating and going overboard!   “It’s Miller time!”   “You deserve a break today at Macdonald’s”, Chinese buffet:  $5:99--- eat all you can!  Buy two pizzas; get one free!   With all these commercials and promotions, it is not easy to resist falling into gluttony!

5.    STRESS:  LAW OF COMPENSATION.    Many overeat due to the stress of modern life.   Tension,  deadlines to make, traffic jams, economic problems, family feuds, worries about the future--- add these all up and as a temporary flight from these problems why not seek refuge in the “pleasure of the palate”.  Dive into that Chinese buffet—all you can eat $4:99!  Go for it!

6.    INNER EMPTINESS!   A spiritual reason for gluttony is the following: the existence of an inner vacuum, an inner emptiness, an inner feeling of failure!   St. Augustine expressed it in this immortal saying:  “O Lord you have made our hearts for thee and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.” (Confessions).   In other words, our hearts have a hole!  That hole can be filled with moral junk (sin) or it can be filled with spiritual riches—God and His abundant grace!  It is either one of the other!   The Angelic Doctor, St Thomas Aquinas, put it this way—“Either we seek the true God in Jesus Christ or we will seek the false god in creature-pleasure!”


First of all, we should never despair due to our human misery.   We indeed are the epitome of weakness; however, God is the essence of power and strength. One of His attributes is that of OMNIPOTENCE--- God is all-powerful! “Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.”   God can indeed move mountains and He can help us overcome any vice, and that includes Gluttony. Here are some concrete suggestions!

1.    ADMIT IT!   One of the key problems of alcoholics is precisely this: living in denial!  That is to say, they do not admit they have a problem with excessive drinking!  In Spanish there is a saying, “No hay peor ciego que aquel que  no quiere ver’; no hay peor sordo, que aquel que no quiere oir.”  Translation—“There is no worse blind person than he who does not want to see; there is no worse deaf person than he who does not want to hear!”  Gluttons must admit it:  “I EAT TOO MUCH!!!” or “I EAT WHAT  DOES ME DAMAGE!”   Healing can start once we admit we have a problem!

2.    CONFESS IT!  The specific sacramental grace from  Confession is that of healing.  Sin wounds our soul; Jesus heals us but most specifically through the Sacrament of Confession.  “Through His wounds we are healed.”

3.     STRATEGY: GAME PLAN!  St. Ignatius offers us a strategy!  Before sitting down to eat, already decide before-hand what you will eat.  Then, and this is the most challenging: get up from the table with a bit of appetite left!  Wow! Usually we get up, having overeaten!   This is called conquest in the Spiritual battle!

4.    IMAGINE THE HOLY FAMILY!   Another potent suggestion would be to imagine that when you are eating that you are sitting down at the table with the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary, and St. Joseph.  Contemplate a typical meal of the most holy of all families eating and sharing together.  We know the saying: “Birds of the flock stick together.” And “Tell me with whom you associate and I will tell you who you are.”    The manners, the courtesy, the self-control, the exquisite charity of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph will teach us the importance of eating not simply to satisfy our taste-buds and earthly desires, but to be aware that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and should be respected as such as well as our body is destined to eternal glory.

5.     REASON OVER PASSION!   In moments of tension and passion, when you are about to eat beg for the grace not simply to follow passion and desire but to submit your lower impulses to that of reason.  Reason teaches us that the purpose of food is nourishment and strengthening so as to carry out our daily obligation better.  “What gas is for the tank of the car; so is food for the stomach!”

6.     HUNGER FOR THE TRUE FOOD!   Cultivate hunger for the best of foods--- Jesus the Bread of Life!  Indeed, why not strive after assisting at Daily Mass, receiving Holy Communion frequently—if possible even on a daily basis.   If our hunger and thirst for Jesus in eating and drinking His Body and Blood is intense, then Jesus indeed will help us to “order the disordered”, in all ways, but specifically,  in the proper use of food and drink! Let us beg Mary, who gave to us Jesus the “Bread of life”, to attain for us self-control and to seek for eternal and perennial realities: the Bread of the Word of God and the Bread of Life in Holy Communion!