When I was little, my parents wanted me to eat all of the food on my plate. If I succeeded, I got lots of smiles and a one-night-only membership to the “clean plate club”. My husband grew up the same way. Because his eyes were bigger than his stomach and he had to compete with his brothers for food, he usually ended up eating too much!
But I’ve noticed a lot of adults recently who want to belong to the “clean plate club” no matter what it takes. It’s like they forgot that leftovers and doggie bags are an option. And considering the portion sizes available to us at restaurants, it’s no wonder America has such a high rate of obesity.
The issue we’re facing is a bunch of adults who don’t know how to say no to “one last bite”. It’s the mindset that has skyrocketed obesity rates and causes Christians (yes, even bible-believing Christians) to dismiss and even mock overeating.
Overeating has become an acceptable form of socializing. I was just in a class the other day and the professor began talking about Christians being overweight. Almost every student in the room blamed it on the potlucks, and it’s true! Food is a social event, so we think because we’re “fellowshipping”, we don’t have to worry about eating too much. Like somehow “fellowshipping” is so holy, we couldn’t possibly sin at the same time.
My friend, if you’re on this train, I want to help you get off. Let’s look at what scripture has to say about gluttony.
Gluttony in the Bible
Consider these scriptures:
Hear, my son, and be wise,
and direct your heart in the way.
Be not among drunkards
or among gluttonous eaters of meat,
for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty,
and slumber will clothe them with rags. ~Proverbs 23:19-21~
The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding,
but a companion of gluttons shames his father. ~Proverbs 28:7~
The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ ~Luke 7:34~
One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith. ~Titus 1:12-13~
In all of these passages, gluttony is spoken of with great disdain, often on par with drunkenness. It was even used to scorn Christ in Luke 7 although clearly, Christ was neither a drunkard nor a glutton. Christ ate and drank (an acceptable amount) because He was human, and so are we!
Gluttony in the Body
Once upon a time, humans treated food as fuel. In fact, in some parts of the world today, food is still treated as a necessary fuel for energy. But in first-world countries, food is social, fun, experimental, a hobby, and an indulgence. We reward ourselves with food whenever we think we’re deserving, and we think we deserve a lot! What if we were to consider food to be fuel again? We would probably be more aware of what we put in our bodies. We might consider what we need to eat rather than what we want to eat. We may even lose a few pounds.
If we decide to use food the way God intended, as fuel not as fun, ironically we may start to enjoy food more. Meals will break up our day and give us a moment to relax. We’ll become more thankful for the food we have, and we’ll recognize what it must be like to not have food. Our grocery budgets will decrease, and we’ll see changes in our waistline. And best of all, we’ll be glorifying God with our body.
Addressing the Temptation
Let’s real talk for a minute: how on earth are we going to manage to eat better in a culture consumed by social eating? We’ll have to adopt something the Bible calls “self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). We have to learn to say no. But again, real talk, “self-control” is kind of ambiguous. We can say we have self-control, but self-control requires action and the proper mind-set. So let’s seriously consider ways we can have more self-control:
- Plan your meals and eat only what is in your plan (you can plan snacks too in case you get hungry).
- Bring healthy meal options to a potluck so you have something you can eat without guilt.
- Keep healthy snacks with you at all times.
- Consider the engagements where you typically eat and fellowship (bible studies, potlucks, etc.). How can you avoid over-eating at these functions? Perhaps only fill your plate once? Or eat beforehand and remind yourself that you already ate?
- Find others who have the same struggle (a spouse, friend, family member, etc.) and hold each other accountable.
Don’t just tell yourself to have self-control. Start by recognizing where you lose your self-control, and address those areas so you don’t easily fall into temptation. Pray about this temptation but instead of trying to just “pray it away”, ask God for the strength to fight it.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. ~1 Corinthians 10:13~
If this is something you struggle with, I hope you’ll consider overcoming a life of gluttony and choose to glorify God with your body. And if you would like some prayer, feel free to contact me here or leave a comment below and I would be happy to pray for you.
With Love Always,