Of Vanishing Cows, Eczema and Gluttony

After months of unsuccessful attempts to find a “miracle cream” for my baby’s eczema, I decided to go for the inside-out approach: eliminate dairy from my diet. He’s an otherwise healthy, nursing baby, so it was worth a shot.

I’m an all or nothing type, so for three weeks I religiously checked every food label to ensure that dairy completely disappeared from my diet. For the first week, I nearly fasted while figuring out what was still okay for me to eat. I ended up eating a lot of peanut butter, avocado, rice; discovered hemp milk, and was thrilled to discover that Oreo’s have enough genetic engineering to not need milk ingredients.

To all you who check labels every day like your life depends on it (for it might), I salute you. You guys are rockstars.

My no-moo experiment lasted three weeks. At first I thought the eczema was clearing up, but then it returned with a vengeance and he was miserable, itchy, and no longer sleeping through the night due to the discomfort of broken and bleeding skin. He had seen a dermatologist at the beginning of my first dairy-free week. This doctor didn’t think food allergies or sensitivities were connected to atopic dermatitis (eczema, for the fancy people) and prescribed a topical steroid cream for him. I’m not a super crunchy mom, but I wanted to at least test my no-milk theory before medication.

Long story short, the cows are apparently not the culprit and steroid meds are keeping his skin beautiful until I can find a dermatologist who is more interested in finding answers than prescribing band-aids.

Well, since I spent so much time focused on eating (or not eating), I stumbled into the rather hushed topic of gluttony.

Gluttony is defined easily as “excessive eating and/or drinking”, but I found some more explicit explanations, too. The online Cambridge dictionary does a better job: “a situation in which people eat and drink more than they need to”, and a Catholic site deems gluttony as “… a disordered appetite–a relationship with food that is obsessive, either by excess or defect“. It also takes a place in the list of the traditional Seven Deadly Sins, alongside lust, greed, slothfulness, wrath, envy and pride.

Now to my discredit, I’ve always pictured gluttony as someone who is lazy and spends their life on the couch, eating themselves into oblivion. The more I thought about it though, and the more Bible verses I noticed about it, indicated that gluttony is actually more of a heart issue than a stomach issue. (But it can definitely overlap!)

For example, being fat doesn’t mean you are living in gluttony. Without getting into a fat vs thin argument, I think it is safe to say that a person who eats unhealthy foods regularly, though not in excessive amounts, is not necessarily a glutton. And because I am not (and never have been) a large person, I’ve always assumed I’ve been exempt from such a vice.

(Did you hear that? Pretty sure the Lord laughed just now.)

Unfortunately, gluttony merely highlights one more aspect of our life where we put something in the place of God. In this case it’s food, or the lack thereof. From this perspective, I’ve been convicted of many elements of gluttony in my life.

1) Disordered eating. Any time I’ve gone on a semi-anorexic kick and focus too much on not feeding my body, so I can control the appearance of my body, instead of fueling my body so I can serve God and others, I’ve been guilty of gluttony.

“Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to satisfy the desires of the flesh.” – Romans 13:14

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” – Colossians 3:2

2) Eating my emotions. Any time I have been sad or angry and sought comfort in chocolate or a sweet drink (coffee, alcohol, etc), rather than giving my burdens to God and finding solace there, I’ve been guilty of gluttony.

Then Jesus declared, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty.‘” – John 6:35

For I satisfy the weary ones and refresh everyone who languishes.” – Jeremiah 31:25

3) Lack of self-control. Any time I realize, “Hey, I’ve already a couple brownies and should probably stop now”, and then proceed to eat three more (or the rest of the pan), I’ve been guilty of gluttony.

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” – Proverbs 25:28

4) Boredom or procrastination. Any time I’ve had a task that needed to be done and sat down to snack instead of being dutiful, I’ve been guilty of gluttony.

“The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.” – Proverbs 13:4

A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his words, and the deeds of a man’s hands will return to him.” – Proverbs 12:14

5) Squandering blessings. If I know someone is without food and I have the ability to feed them, but only feed myself, I am guilty of gluttony.

“Now this is the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” – Ezekiel 16:49

Gluttony puts food in the way of our relationship with God; it starves our spirits while feeding (or not feeding) our stomachs.

We need to feed our bodies, yes, but we need to fuel them and not merely fill them.

Feed your stomach. Worship the Lord. Let’s not confuse the two.


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