Different Kinds of Gluttony

Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest medieval philosophers, recognized that gluttony involved more than eating too much. He developed a list of other ways in which a person might “abuse” food to the point of gluttony. Here are the different ways in which a person can be gluttonous.

Small boy devouring chocolate.

1. Eating too soon. This is when you eat more than three meals a day. This includes nibbling and snacking throughout the day. Eating while preparing meals would be one example. Gluttons just can’t seem to leave food out of their mouths. These people are usually obese.

2. Eating too expensively. Some people acquire a taste for really expensive foods—exotic foods that cost a lot of money. To spend a significant portion of you income on special foods you don’t need is also gluttony. These people may not be obese but spend too much on the food they eat.

3. Eating too much. This is the common understanding of gluttony. These people are all obese.

4. Eating too eagerly. These people spend too much of their brain power thinking about food. Food is always in their thoughts—they fantasize about food. They think about flavors, textures, colors of food all the time. When these people sit down to a meal they take it all in. They wallow in the smells, sights, and sounds of food. These people usually eat too much and are are obese.

5. Eating too daintily. These gluttons are excessively concerned about trivial aspects of food. They will only eat “organic” foods, foods that are not genetically modified, foods not irradiated, only raw foods, or only locally grown foods. Most of these distinctions in foods don’t significantly alter the nutritional quality of food. It is a form of gluttony to fuss over scientifically insignificant differences in foods. These gluttons may not be obese.

6. Eating wildly. These gluttons eat too fast. They stuff their faces as fast as they can. They can finish a meal in five minutes and then take large helpings of seconds and thirds. These people are ravenous eaters and are usually overweight.

There are meat eating gluttons, vegetarian gluttons and vegan gluttons. Gluttons of all types need to suppress concerns about food back to its proper place in life. Jesus put food in its proper place by fasting for nearly six weeks. Jesus in his extreme hunger could still declare that his relationship with God was more important than food.

Follow the example of Jesus found in Luke 4:4 “But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’” Put God first in your life, not food. 

(This article is part of a series on gluttony. View:  <Previous  Next>)