Last Sunday, we went to the School of Life to hear a sermon by Allegra McEvedy, one of the co-founders of Leon Restaurants and Chef in Residence at The Guardian newspaper. The subject was gluttony. In Picky Foodie terms, you must be wondering: where do gluttony and health intersect, if at all?
Gluttony is one of the Seven Deadly Sins.
Health is not -- much as some would like it to be.
Derived from the Latin gluttire, meaning to gulp down or swallow, gluttony (Latin, gula) is the over-indulgence and over-consumption of anything to the point of waste. (Wikipedia)
However, as Ms. McEvedy pointed out, when those Capital Vices were declared in early Christian times, things were different. The gap between rich and poor was so large that it’s not hard to see how gluttony could be judged as evil in order to curb the hedonism of the wealthy.
These days, while gluttony is no longer considered a Deadly Sin as such, it is still frowned upon in our society. Women stare at one another at parties, counting the servings others heap onto their plates and many people only allow themselves to enjoy the occasional gluttonous meal – you can see them counting the minutes they will spend on the treadmill making up for it even before they have ordered!
What would happen if you ate everything you wanted? I know for a fact that many people are afraid that if the rules were eased, if restrictions were removed, that they would consume the entire contents of their kitchen before heading out to the supermarket for more. While that may to a certain extent be the case to begin with, is it not simply a backlash response to the fact that we have been restraining ourselves far too much for far too long? Is it not simply a fear of losing control?
Gluttony these days is not so much about curbing abundance as it is about curbing pleasure, the ability to enjoy one’s food, to savour tastes and the sensual experiences of eating – at least in the Western hemisphere.
Is it really such a sin to take pleasure in one’s food?
And does exercising such restraint really lead to optimal health, optimal weight and optimal satisfaction, or does restriction only cause us to doubt our selves and our bodies?
One consequence of that need for absolute control is that when we do fall off the wagon, we fall hard. And then we retreat back into our “safety zone”– calorie counting, carb curbing, sugar prohibition -- after which we inevitably lose control again on a lonely Sunday afternoon, or at a co-worker’s birthday party. And so the cycle continues.
There is a better way -- a way that involves pleasure and enjoyment, acceptance and feeling good about our selves. Try it! Who knows, you might even come back for a second helping!
P.S. When our vegan superhero came to stay, DW and I decided to take advantage of her presence and take a break from animal protein for a few days. And what a wonderful few days we had! Check out this week’s Friday Night Dinner Blog for one vegan and one non-vegan recipe -- there’s something in it for everyone.
P.P.S. On Life As A Picky Foodie needs more readers. And we need your help in finding them – or rather in helping them find us. For the next little while, I am offering a free Picky Foodie one-on-one counselling session to every person who refers five others. It’s very easy: get five friends, co-workers, family members or strangers to sign up to the On Life As A Picky Foodie newsletter, and you will receive a free forty-five minute consultation with yours truly. Simply ask anyone signing up to email me and let me know your name.