On gluttony

We are probably only kidding ourselves if we don’t think that we eat too much. I have come very close to writing this note on several occasions, but I have always stopped because for most people, not all, the decision to overeat is theirs. Living in a land of plenty, we have an opportunity at every meal to eat too much. The food is plentiful, nutritious, and tasty. Modern science has solved most of the issues surrounding safe food conservation, and between refrigeration and chemical food additives, food does not spoil before we eat it. The result of all this success and plenty are supermarkets, restaurants, and big box retailers that are loaded to the brim with lots of food. During the medieval period, food was less safe and less plentiful, and gluttony was one of the seven deadly sins. Staying trim was less an effort because there was less food and lots of work. Obesity was not common and most people did not have weight problems. Sugar was a very scarce commodity and uncommon in the diets of most normal people. Today, sugar is everywhere, and even the mayor of New York City is concerned about people buying 64 ounce soft drinks to suck on all day. I do not think it is the governments job to legislate eating habits, which does not work anyway. Most people suffer from gluttony because they are really quite unaware that they don’t need about half of the food they are eating at any given sitting. Most adults can probably get by with two small meals a day unless they are involved in heavy physical labor such as construction or farming. Sitting at a desk and looking at a computer screen all day does not qualify as physical work. We all eat too much because it’s very pleasurable, it’s very plentiful, and we exercise no self-control. Eating turns into a nervous habit that we do for fun, not for nutrition. The result is obesity, and (no puns intended) it’s a growing problem. Ask yourself this: have you had to buy larger and larger clothes to contain your expanding girth? Have you supersized anything in the past month? The simple truth is that most people are eating about twice what they really need. Gluttony is almost an accidental byproduct of a society wallowing in its own success. Our economy is driven by the food industry which spends billions on advertising, product development, packaging, transportation, and labor, and millions of hard-working men and women depend on the food industry for their daily bread. It is very hard to tell people to eat less when eating is a status symbol of financial success. Other generations do us no favors by encouraging us to clean our plates or eat as much as we can. “If you don’t eat, you’re going to dry up and blow away!” The sad truth is that we can eat a whole lot, and if we do those things on a consistent basis we are going to be as big a blimp, victims of our own excess. Every person has the right to choose how much they don’t eat, but almost no one has the ability to recognize themselves as a glutton and put down their forks and push away from the table. The sad truth about gluttony is that we no longer see it as a sin, and since we exercise no self-control concern food and eating habits, we are slowly, but surely, killing ourselves.