Is Diet Food Bad for our Spirits?

I’m just thinking…

Last week I preached on gluttony which, contrary to popular belief, is not simply eating too much. Those who have contemplated and considered gluttony as one of the seven capital vices see it as something much deeper. One can eat too daintily, too sumptuously, too hastily, too greedily, or just plain too much/too often.

Gluttony is a disordered relationship with food. It is the vice that keeps us from enjoying the good gift of food in its proper place.

The thought that occurred to me is this: is being able to consume calorie-reduced food spiritually neutral? Is eating a whole Boston cream pie a neutral act as long as it doesn’t overload my metabolism with unnecessary sugar, calories or fat? Or does “diet” food enable me to gorge my taste buds while ignoring the fact that my relationship with my food is out of whack?

In Wishful Thinking, Frederick Buechner writes, “A glutton is one who raids the icebox for a cure for spiritual malnutrition.”

So I began to wonder if there isn’t something spiritually unhealthy about some “health foods” if they have been artificially altered to reduce or remove the natural consequences of eating. It seems that things like artificial sweeteners or indigestible fats free a person to further disregard their proper relationship with food. By removing the natural consequences of the disordered relationship with food, “diet foods” remove some of the naturally occurring pressures to have a proper relationship with our food (like an alcoholic who never gets hangovers). This leaves us free to be unhealthy rather than pushing us toward wholeness.

I haven’t developed this line of thought very far, but I think it’s worth thinking about.

(BTW – if you want to experience my message on Gluttony, you can watch it hear, listen to it here, or download an MP3 here.)

  • SJ

    I like this post. 🙂 good thoughts/points.