Should Catholics Obsess About Food?

Comment: 

Although the above short video talk refers to the USA, things are almost identical here in the UK, with just about everyone following some kind of dietary advice from the “experts”.    Is this a kind of obsession which we, as Catholics, should avoid?  After all, Our Lord Himself taught us not to worry about such things:  “… do not worry about about what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on… Behold, the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are not you of much more value than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26)

So, at the risk of incurring the wrath of the animal rights fanatics who won’t agree that humans are of much more value than the birds of the air,  I am wondering if we should take the advice at the end of the video and take responsibility for our own diet – and not obsess over what the Governments thinks is best for us.  What do you think? 

I must confess, I already do that, by and large.  At one time I was the proud purchaser of only diet drinks and semi-skimmed milk; I even hid the chip pan (although never the chocolate)… No more.  I became a liberated woman eater a number of years ago and haven’t looked back since (nor put on any notable weight, if at all – I also ditched the bathroom scales 😀 ) 

Share your thoughts – while I take a break to enjoy some coffee and cream cake…   

22 responses

  1. Just because of that verse about Divine Providence in the Gospel, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t eat healthily, surely?

    I think most of us try to cut down on fatty foots, watch the diet, so that we can avoid sickness and a premature death. I don’t see that as “obsessing” about food, to be honest.

    • Laura

      I think everyone would say we need to eat healthily, but just that it’s not the job of the state to tell us what to eat. They’re spending a fortune on all the so-called research (jobs for the boys, and girls, no doubt) but we don’t know how reliable it all is, do we?

      Our parents and grandparents ate stuff that would be regarded as deadly unhealthy today and they lived well into old age. I don’t bother with the scaremongering any more. I eat what I want, although I never get enough, LOL!

      • It’s confusing when the scientific establishment change their mind, for example regarding the link between fat consumption and heart disease. There is a lot of disputable health advice pretending to be science. However, we now know for a fact that smoking and processed meats are carcinogenic, and marijuana causes memory loss and schizophrenia. Surely the state has a duty to warn us?

  2. I myself am unhealthily obsessed with food and before I became Catholic I was vegan for three years. I think veganism is a surrogate religion. Individualism in our culture has created a void in people and they are desperate to submit to some kind of higher meaning and morality outside of themselves.

    Being overly fussy about food is actually a form of gluttony; dainty gluttony. Gluttony is not merely overeating. Thomas Aquinas says that there are several types of gluttony: eating too fast, too eagerly, too soon, too much, too expensively, too daintily.

    I do not agree with Prager U that personal health is not the responsibility of the government. Prager U are radical anti-state individualists, and their political philosophy has more in common with Protestant and Enlightenment ideas than it does to authentic Catholic social teaching. I believe that the state does have a duty to regulate food and agriculture and give scientifically accurate dietary and health advice to the public.

    • Miles Immaculatae,

      I am very much opposed to the state dictating what we should eat, do for recreation, and even think, so I’m afraid I disagree with your analysis of Prager U. I don’t follow them all the time but the few videos I’ve seen (mostly here) have all be measured and sensible. The man in charge of Prager U is not a Protestant – I believe he’s a Jew.

      I think the state’s role is to make sure there are safety standards in food imports and in what happens in the farming and agriculture (and I suppose fishing) industries, but that is where it ends. I’m sick of them telling us one minute not to eat this or that and the next to reverse it so we can eat this or that but not the other.

      I think it’s a disgrace that the government banned smoking – what on earth business is it of the government what we do for recreation. If restaurants or café owners really think it’s best not to smoke in their premises, then they can make the rule and we can choose whether to eat there or not. Government interference in our lives is far too excessive nowadays. If anybody obsesses over food it’s these meddling politicians!

      Can you quote where in Catholic Social Teaching it says that the government has a duty to regulate food etc and give health advice to the public? I thought I’d read all the Catholic Social Teaching encyclicals but I can’t remember anything as detailed as that anywhere.

      • Margaret Mary,

        I also think Miles is wrong on this. The Social encyclicals are about fairness to workers, and the duty of the state to provide a safety net for the very poor, so that justifies giving welfare. I’ve never heard anyone say before that the encyclicals say the state has a duty to give health advice to the public. What if the government thought this barrister was right and decided to make eating meat a crime? LOL!
        https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7492829/Eating-meat-crime-against-humanity-banned-says-QC.html

        • Fidelis,

          I read that report – that lawyer is well known, so this is his latest headline grabber.

          I did laugh at some of the comments underneath your report and this one I thought I was bring back here to share:

          “If God didn’t want us to eat animals, why did he make them out of meat.”

          LOL!

        • As ridiculous as it sounds, it could yet happen. What was parody 15 years ago has now become reality. You should watch the mockumentary ‘Simon Amstell: Carnage’ on BBC iPlayer. It’s set in a future world where meat eating has been banned. You will laugh out loud.

      • Okay, I agree. The state shouldn’t be telling us what we can and can’t put in our mouths, that would be fascistic. But I still think the state has a responsibility for the health of its citizens. For example, I think healthier foods should be subsidised so that poorer people may afford to eat healthily. When I was a volunteer for a church youth group in Clydebank several of the young people were obese, and a higher proportion of them were obese than I remember there being form when I was at school. I think this obesity is poverty related.

        • I think you’re right about the connection between obesity and poverty – which, unlike the alleged connection between not eating meat and saving the planet, is real.

  3. I guess “obsession” is a kind of anxiety which is a lack of trust in God. So no, we shouldn’t be obsessed about such things, but on the other hand, gluttony is a sin.
    A little bit of what you like does you good, but if your diet doesn’t have any treats in it what are you going to give up in Lent?

      • Yes. I knew a primary teacher some years ago who didn’t approve of the healthy lunchbox drive. When she was asked by Authority what her feelings were on the school sweet ban, she replied airily “Plenty of time to eat their sweets after three o’clock.” Ha, ha.

        I may add that her own children had sweets only on Sundays and (as all children in Ireland at that time) saved up sweets all through Lent for a glorious session on St Patrick’s Day. Gluttony, like other disorders, is kept better in check by a robust sacrificial spirit, rather than by healthy food drives- as the teacher well knew. With her common sense Catholic spirit, she bemoaned the new, secular mores surrounding lunchboxes, “Sure, what’ll the poor kids give up now on Fridays or for Lent?” she said.

        It’s true we have to look after our health but obesity would not be spinning out of control if the churches were full (in general, and not saying every fat person is guilty of gluttony- not at all. People often get fat from overwork, little sleep, other health problems.) All the deadly sins are mounting up because, minus the Sacraments and sound catechesis, people are lost, without medicine for intellect or will. The government will always be running in circles, putting put moral fires, when the faith is not in the ascendancy. I wonder if any politicians ever join the dots.

        • sentirecumecclesia,

          I know parents who are diligent in denying their children sweets – for the sake of their teeth. I think that’s on a different level altogether from the sort of fanatic dietary drives under discussion here.

          Your final paragraph nails it – assuming that regular attendance at church/ Mass = a serious attempt to live a virtuous life. I’m afraid I’m increasingly cynical about that – call me judgemental if you will 😀

  4. My parish priest is a fan of the low carb diet. I said to him jokingly, if carbs are bad for us then why did Our Lord choose to give to us the true substance of Himself in the accidents of bread? Surely, Our Lord wouldn’t be that irresponsible!

  5. I disagree with the video’s opening insinuation, that it is Government dietary guidelines that are responsible for substantial average weight gains in males and females since 1977. The only proof of this offered by the video is guilt by association, not scientific evidence.

    However, I agree with the concluding statement, that we should take responsibility for our own diets. Increasingly, I think that means ignoring the obsession with cholesterol (and the huge profits made by drug companies from very dangerous statin drugs to “reduce” cholesterol), and staying away from processed foods. If your doctor has found that you have high cholesterol and recommends a statin drug, you need to find a new doctor.

    One of my boys became a vegan not long ago, and it does seem to be similar to a religion – a pagan religion. There are some things about it that are nutritionally sound, and others that are just irrational, like refusing to eat honey, the consumption of which would somehow violate their principle to do no harm to animals.

    As for Prager U, this is Dennis Prager’s organization, and he is indeed Jewish, which is quite rare for a conservative. I confess I am somewhat taken aback by Miles Immaculatae’s description of this group as “radical anti-state individualists.” What does that mean, exactly?

    • Some of their other videos have promoted laissez-faire capitalism, they are against any kind of regulation of the economy. Like Milton, Ayn Rand etc. That’s was I meant by radical anti-state individualism.

  6. Being a conspiratorial sort, I have to wonder how much of this alleged government concern for our health has a sinister agenda behind it: population control, one of the primary weapons of tyranny. In the most extreme option, governments starve their rebellious subjects to death (Stalin). Among the kinder, gentler, more gradual options, we have:

    *Directing the population towards foods (including the fluoridation of water in the USA) that will make the population more prone to sickness, and thus more dependent upon the drug manufacturers ==> more profits;

    *Promoting a diet like veganism, which sets the stage for more ascetic eating habits;

    *Manufacturing an environmental hoax like “climate change” that will require less consumption of food in order to “save the planet”;

    *Controlling the weather via excessive rainfall or drought, so that crop production is reduced or eliminated;

    *Enacting various environmental regulations that reduce crop availability;

    *Making the eating of certain foods (like beef) toxic via propaganda. Why beef, by the way? Because, for example, here in the USA, beef ranchers are well-known to be highly defiant of government control.

    • RCA Victor,

      I thought the fluoridation of water was a good thing, cause of those whiter than white smiles we see in Americans. Are you sure it causes sickness? I need to know asap, because I may need to rethink my decision to move to the USA – I’ve already got my eye on a house, so let me know asap. Here’s a photo – I was about to email you to see if you could recommend a gardener…

      • Editor,

        I recommend a non-google search for “the dangers of fluoridation,” after which, I gua-ran-tee, you will have more reading than you know what to do with. Turns out all those whiter-than-snow smiles are hiding some serious fluoride-induced damage to the nervous systems of us Yanks.

        Government solicitous for our health? Yeah, right.

        As for a gardener for your prospective home, here’s one:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Dickinson

        Oh wait, she’s dead….

        • RCA Victor,

          From the Wiki link about Emily Dickinson…

          Evidence suggests that Dickinson lived much of her life in isolation. Considered an eccentric by locals, she developed a penchant for white clothing and was known for her reluctance to greet guests or, later in life, to even leave her bedroom. Dickinson never married, and most friendships between her and others depended entirely upon correspondence.

          Gosh – this could be MY Wiki entry, were I to be so foolish as to post one!

  7. No Catholics should not obsess about food, but rather practice moderation in line with having respect for our God given bodies.

    Shamefully I often fail on the moderation point and, following a recent holiday, have progressed from being slightly fat to very fat!

    How long is it until Lent? 😛

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