Some thoughts on gluttony

June 26, 2008 | 35 comments

Technically, I am not overweight. I’m six feet tall, so it’s not terribly hard for me to stay within a reasonable weight range for my ginormous height. But this only makes it easier to ignore one of the vices to which I’m most prone: gluttony.

I recently picked up a copy of Reinhard Engels’ No-S Diet book for some light reading to keep my motivation up during my processed foods detox. I only got it because it was cheap and I found it amusing that a computer programmer wrote a diet book.

Once I started reading it, however, I found that it has some of the most helpful, practical insights on maintaining a reasonable weight that I’ve ever heard.

A good (perhaps more descriptive) alternate title would be Conquering Gluttony. While most weight loss books devote 80% of the content to explaining the diet itself and 20% to how to keep up with it for the long term, this book is the opposite: almost all the content of the No-S Diet deals with how to overcome gluttonous tendencies for life.

The idea is that you work to develop lifetime habits of:

  • No Sweets
  • No Snacks
  • No Seconds
  • …Except sometimes on Special Days (days of the week that start with S, major national and religious holidays, and immediate family members’ birthdays)

When I first read about this concept, it didn’t sound that remarkable. But trying to put these ideas into practice in my life this past week has led to quite remarkable results…not necessarily in terms of weight loss (yet), but in the way I see my relationship with food. Here are some thoughts:

NO SWEETS: Making special days special

The idea here is that you put sweets in their proper place, enjoying them regularly but not whenever you feel like it. I like Engels’ point that “sweets weren’t designed for daily, routine consumption, physically or spiritually” [emphasis mine]. The discipline involved in forcing myself to wait a little while to indulge in sweets (just until the weekend, which is doable), has been as good for me spiritually as it has been physically.

NO SNACKS: Mindful eating

I’m not much of a snacker…so I thought. But making the commitment to consolidate my eating to three distinct meals per day has made me realize just how much I graze!

It’s also forced me into the practice of mindful eating: for example, if I’m really going to make it all the way between lunch and dinner without snacking, I need to think ahead and make sure I have a plan for both lunch and dinner. The first couple of days I found myself drifting around the kitchen at each meal, unconsciously reaching for the bag of pretzels to quell my increasing hunger while I tried to figure out what to eat. It only took a few days without snacks to motivate me to actually put some thought into what the next meal would be.

Also, as a somewhat “emotional eater, ” I’ve found it a lot easier to honestly answer the question “Is it mealtime?” as opposed to the question “Am I really hungry?” With the latter, there’s a surprising amount of gray area depending on my mood. With the former, it’s perfectly clear.

And, finally, no snacking has also made me experience something that is very unfamiliar to me: hunger. I didn’t realize it until I tried following these principles, but I never used to feel hungry. At the slightest pang, I’d wander into the kitchen and grab a handful of cheerios or a granola bar. As Engels’ predicts, my body is adjusting and I find myself less and less hungry between meals as the days go on. But, frankly, the feeling of being hungry is actually kind of refreshing — and it’s made me truly appreciate and focus on each meal more than ever before.

NO SECONDS: Mindful eating, part II

For me, the “no seconds” rule has been the most powerful concept in terms of controlling my gluttonous tendencies. The idea is this: eat however much of whatever you want…just put it all on one plate. You wouldn’t think that that would be that powerful. Let me give you an example that demonstrates why it is:

A few days ago we went over to a friend’s house where they had some delicious quiche. I put a nice, dainty little portion onto my plate…and then realized that if I were really going to make it until the next meal with no snacks and no seconds, I would want more than this. So I estimated how much I would probably normally eat (spread out over second and third helpings), and put it all on one plate.

Y’all, that was embarrassing!

I saw my friend do a double-take as I walked back to the table with my huge dinner-sized plate covered with quiche. “I’m really hungry today, ” I said with a self-conscious laugh. Even when I eat alone, it is very psychologically powerful to have the amount that I am eating stare me in the face.

These last two ideas, no snacks and no seconds, have really brought home to me something that Engels emphasizes in his book: Gluttony almost always involves lies.

This was a huge realization for me, and the main reason that this system of eating has changed the way I think about my relationship to food: unless I was counting carbs or calories (which is impossible for me to keep up with for the long haul), snacks and seconds allowed me to spread out my consumption and unintentionally lie to myself about how much I was really eating. Without snacks and seconds, there are no more lies. Without any counting or measuring, I can see with my own eyes (as can anyone else who’s around me) that I am eating huge quantities of food at each meal.

And the visceral reaction I have upon seeing so much food on a plate in front of me — and knowing that I will consume every bite of it — has motivated me to do something about my eating habits on a whole new level. For the first time in my life, I can honestly say that my motivation is not about fitting into a certain size jeans. It’s moved from a surface level to a much deeper gut level where my most base instinct says, “This is not right.”

Now, I know better than to declare that this is the ultimate solution after only trying it for a week. However, I will say that in the past week these principles have given me more practical tools for overcoming gluttony than anything I’ve ever tried before.

If anyone else struggles with this or has practical tips for dealing with it, I’d love to hear about it!


  1. Lydia

    I am on the “No S Diet” right now, and I couldn’t agree more with the points you have made. This is the first diet I have been on that has caused me to adjust the love/hate relationship I’ve had with food. Normally, I become twice as obsessive with all that counting & measuring. I truly hope to make this a lifetime habit. I haven’t seen any big weightloss yet, but I truly believe that over the long run, I will slim down. Engels’ says that this diet creates an avg. of a 1/2 lb. loss per week. Check out his website: his podcasts are a great listen. I think he’s a truly brilliant thinker.

  2. Lydia

    One more point about this diet – Engels describes what constitutes a habit–A habit is something that can be performed unconsciously. 99.9% of diets do not fall into that category. Counting calories/carbs/the glycemic index, writing down a food list, avoiding particular categories of food, etc., are all conscious activities. While they might be sorta fun for a few weeks, they quickly become WORK. His system is so simple and involves things we can all do/avoid in a completely unconscious manner, that it can become habituated behavior. Even if one were to reach their goal weight following one of the popular diets, as soon as the diet is abandoned, the weight would most likely return.

  3. Jen

    I’ve had four children in five and a half years, gaining massive amounts of weight with each of them. I am five foot one inch tall, so when I’m overweight, I’m overweight. I have struggled with being chunky to flat out obese (after the birth of my third child I was 200 pds). I have done every diet out there and lost the weight. Once I get it off, it doesn’t come back on until I get pregnant again. I recently lost 40pds after the birth of my fourth child (he’s 18 months old) and am the smallest I’ve been since my twenties (I’m 33). I run three miles three times a week as well. This said, I have major issues with disordered eating, and right before I clicked onto your blog, I was researching it. As soon as I get off the diet plan (which has been Weight Watchers in the past because I’m always nursing an infant/toddler), I go back to…well, gluttony. It’s as simple as that. As soon as I hit my goal, I’m back to eating awful. I can’t thank you enough for posting about this and for posting about your insights on the book. I am a big snacker, and I know that if I just waited until the next meal and ate like I was supposed to, things would be better. I will pray that you reach your goals, both spirituall and physically. Keep posting about what you find! 🙂

  4. SuburbanCorrespondent

    I was amazed at how much more I appreciated my food when I allowed myself to get really hungry before meals. Everything tasted better!

    I am so tempted to draw an analogy between this and the problem with premarital sex, but I will refrain. Besides, you could probably do it better.

  5. magdajhawthorne

    Hi Jen, I’ve found a lot of good advice and comfort in working through Geneen Roth’s books on how to overcome compulsive eating. It is not a diet, it’s a way to change your relationship with food. It’s taken me a year and a half of trying to work with her, but I’m am really starting to see a difference in that I simply don’t want the things I used to.

    I also love love love Pam Andersons’ (no, not Pamela Anderson) new cookbook, the perfect recipe for losing weight and eating great, esp. for her discussion of the way she’s divided up her eating day and for her easy wonderful recipes.

    You know, I was reading a quote of St. Bernard’s and he referred to overeating as a sin. And that really made me stop and think. Esp. when you think of sin not as “things we do that are wrong” but “things we do that cause us to turn away from God.” No conclusions, just it made me think. I’d love to hear more about this from a Catholic perspective.

  6. magdajhawthorne

    I also want to say that in my view, how you approach the S days part are crucial to the success or failure of the No S diet. When you have an S day, you absolutely under no circumstances must beat yourself up for whatever or however you eat. You can watch and take notes of what you do and why, but trying to restrict yourself on those days will turn No S into a restrictive diet, or thinking, ” man one day off and I blew it by eating the entire gallon of ice crem — I’m going to not have any S days” will kill your whole diet. As they say on the website, you need the S days so the Normal days can be normal

  7. Valerie

    Good points and I do love that it’s not *work* and it’s not a flat out eliminate everything diet.

    This I could follow!

  8. Heather

    I don’t really struggle with my weight but found that Setting Captives Free is a wonderful program regarding gluttony and Christ. The site is and I did work through the program (I don’t like to recommend things I haven’t worked through.) I found it helped me with a lot of other issues that I didn’t know were issues.:)

  9. Jen Rouse

    I struggle with these issues too. I just may have to try the one-plate, no-snacks thing. It would probably be very eye-opening.

  10. Carrie

    I started it this week as well, though I’m easing into it a bit. I’m at my all-time weight high (other than at 38 weeks with baby #2) and something needed to change. I’ve made it all week without dessert; it was hard the first couple of days, but then I’ve adjusted. I’ve limited my “seconds” to more veggies this week. My thing isn’t worrying so much about portion size as it is that I tend to get a small helping to make sure that everyone else at the table gets however much they want…but then I find myself hungry because my hubby will eat whatever is left. 🙂 The no snacking is the hardest thing for me. I’ve been limiting myself to one snack a day right now (rough week and I’m easing into this). I plan to go on this fully next week, then hopefully get back into exercising after that. Baby steps form habits. My goal is to be back down to my “happy” weight by the time I turn 30, in 2 years and 2 weeks. Losing 1/2 pound a week would get me there easily. We’ll see!

  11. Carrie

    I will also add that I’ve found that I am the trendsetter in our home when it comes to food. My entire family’s weight and health depends in large part in my getting myself in gear and making sure that meals are planned in advance and relatively healthy. If I make dessert every night, we’ll eat it every night. If I make dessert only on the weekend, we’ll eat it only on the weekend. I’m doing my best to realize how much what I do affects those I love.

  12. Barb

    Hey Jennifer, I caught this on a post of yours the other day. I loved this guy’s website. (Anyone who tells people that they just eat too damn much, is fine with me!!) So as of Monday, I’m trying it too. I only need to loose 10 pounds but it is lifestyle changes that I am after and this looked so easy and didn’t deny me any foods that I love.

    I have found myself really hungry for dinner though. It is amazing to feel real hunger!

    I’ll let you know how it is going.

  13. magdajhawthorne

    Ah, I forgot my best most practical tip, at least for Catholics. When I have a craving for something and it’s driving me crazy where I can feel the gooey brownie in my mouth, or long for the crunch of chips or the hot feeling of a mocha over my tongue, I try to imagine that I’m receiving and eating the Body of Christ. I imagine the feeling of the Eucharist on my tongue and chewing the Bread of Life. And then I think about Augustine, when he said that the soul is restless until it rests in God — only I think that the soul hungers for God, and the soul will not rest until it gets sustenance from God. There’s a reason why Christ wants us to eat Him physically, I think.

    And, indeed, I find whenever I am habitually and compulsively overeating, it’s because I’m not doing something else to feed my soul.

    Ok, that’s my last post on this, I promise.

  14. Amber

    Ooh, no seconds – yikes! At this point in my life I do pretty well with all of those points except the one about taking seconds. However, I really don’t have too much of a problem with my weight since I have the other points under control. However, it would probably help with my enormous pregnancy weight gain.

    One of the things I found most helpful was to really look at portion sizes for sweets. So often when I would want something sweet, I would get a big bowl of ice cream or several cookies or whatever – when it would turn out that I would be completely satisfied with a half a cookie or a couple of small spoonfuls of ice cream in a small bowl, when eaten mindfully rather than mindlessly. If I still want something more after that, I drink a big glass of water and try to involve myself in something else. I also try to limit sweets to the sorts of days/occasions that he mentions, which helps too.

    Now the thing I work on is not getting too crabby with my family when I’m hungry and trying to make dinner or waiting for the next meal!!

  15. Mary Catherine

    I mostly don’t snack and seconds aren’t a big deal, but sweets are my downfall. It’s not that I have a super-sweet tooth, it’s just that there’s not a lot of snack food in the house, so I always go for the chocolate chips when I want a little munchy. And I have to have sugar in my tea, always, and lots of it.

    But. I used to have problems with snacking and seconds, especially with starchy things, and the thing that completely turned it and for me was whole grains. I started doing research on the terrible things white flour does to your digestion and came to the conclusion that all the wheat I ate should be whole wheat. Eliminating white flour from my diet made smaller amounts of bread infinitely more filling and satisfying, and it became so much easier to eat just a slice or two of bread at meals and none in between. It also made me feel healthier, which in turn made me crave healthier foods, because my stomach wasn’t blocked up with white flour glue any more.

    But the processed sugars are still a big vice. I’m trying to work out a plan to replace processed sugars with honey, in hopes that that will make me satisfied with less a la the whole wheat plan.

    I have a theory, though, about food cravings: our bodies crave certain foods because we need something that’s in them. So if you eat something that’s a cheap imitation and doesn’t have the essential component, you will just continue to crave it. If you give your body foods in their natural state, eat vegetables with high brix numbers, &c, you will be satisfied with less. This is a theory formed from personal observation, and not from empirical studies.

  16. Jennifer

    This sounds borderline quacky, but i swear it’s true–During pregnancy (ahhhh, lovely pregnancy!), I became allergic to nuts (peanuts and tree nuts, strangely enough!)….I had to become a label reader and really watch everything I ate carefully so I wouldn’t end up high-tailing it to the ER. Even though I gained over 50 lbs when I was pregnant (yup–you read correctly), I wound up smaller postpartum than before I had Landon! And I stay pretty much the same size (three years later), even with hypothyroidism. So what started as a joke has now become the key to a healthy diet…”Convince yourself nuts are bad!” Ha ha ha! No, seriously, go to the store and try to find sweets without a nut warning (or produced in a facility)–It is hard to do. After I got the nut thing under my belt, I researched preservatives and found out some pretty scary stuff–So I cleaned out BHT (knocking out most sugary cereals among MANY other things), BHA and EDTA from my diet. Finally, I added in avoiding high fructose corn syrup and trans fats. I know it sounds daunting–For me it took getting sick with weird things for about a year and reading info that scared me to clean up my diet, but now I am sooo happy I did! Now Landon benefits from the change too–and when I think about all of the crap I ate as a kid, I am so thankful for the knowledge I have :o)

    Sorry for the novel!

  17. Susan Thompson

    This is my first post on your blog, which I found a few days ago. I really like the simplified philosophy of the No-S diet.

    A writer named Michael Pollan came up with another simple diet I like: (1) Eat food (as opposed to foodlike substances). (2) Not too much. (3) Mostly plants.

    Here’s a link:

  18. Marian

    Just wanted to say a big THANK YOU for posting about this!

  19. The Sojourner

    I did a similar thing to this during Lent–no sweets except on Sundays, no snacks between meals. And I did not die.(Then Easter, etc, and I’m 10 pounds heavier than I was in late March.)

    So now I’m telling my stomach that it doesn’t need a mid-morning snack.

  20. nicole

    Sounds like a good plan. I would be willing to bet that more of my indulgent eating happens on the weekend anyway, so I like that the weekends are part of the exceptions. I like your point about mindful eating. I need to plan lunches more thoroughly, as that can be a big downfall for me. If I don’t have a plan for what I’m going to eat I end up eating an assortment of snacks that aren’t great for me. Also, putting all you are going to eat on one plate is an interesting idea. I’m not big on seconds anyway, but my husband is. I might suggest he try that to see what his response is. Keep telling us how your efforts are going.

  21. SteveG

    I found it interesting that after trying a multitude of different diets for the past 15 years (severe obesity runs in my family so I’ve been battling this all my adult life), I’d more or less found my way to something very much like his plan by trial and error.

    While I fundamentally agree with what he’s offering, he is most definitely missing at least two HUGE pieces.

    The first missing part doesn’t apply to everyone, and I suspect from reading his history, that it doesn’t apply to him (that’s why he’s missed it 🙂 ).

    This has to do with an issue Jennifer raised in the earlier post about the role insulin plays in all of this.

    There is no question about the fact that, in some people, the inability of the body to properly regulate blood sugar and insulin levels causes a problem. That problem is excessive cravings.

    Most everybody here who’s struggled with weight already knows the deal…eat too many carbs, blood sugar skyrockets, insulin rises sharply to compensate, blood sugar drops too low…’feel’ intensely hungry….eat more carbs to bring blood sugar back up…round and round we go!

    The effect of this is to create cravings based on blood sugar and insulin levels rather than ‘real’ hunger (i.e. the need for nourishment).

    This is why the low carb diets we’ve all tried work so well. They break that cycle, but we all know that they are nearly impossible to stay on.

    The no S-diet certainly does address this to some extent by eliminating snacks and sweets. But fair warning, if one’s single plate of food at each meal is overloaded with carbs, one is setting themselves up for failure if you are one of those who has a ‘sensitivity’ to the insulin blood sugar high/low cycle.

    I am not suggesting a low carb diet as such, but a modified no-S diet that combines some of the principles of the carbohydrate addict’s diet (which has a lot in common with the no-S diet…no counting, no measuring, reward meals, etc.).

    If you are not a carb addict, just do the no-S diet.

    If like me, you are carb ‘sensitive’ (shorthand for saying your body doesn’t do a good job regulating insulin and blood sugar), make sure at the very least, that your first two meals of the day are balanced 1/3 carb, 1/3 veg, 1/3 protein.

    Personally, when needing to actually drop a few pounds, I do much lower carb than that for breakfast and lunch. I find this reduces the cravings even more and I eat much less overall. But strictly speaking that’s not a necessity.

    If anyone is interested in what I am suggesting, just look over the principles of the carbohydrate addict’s diet and join it with the no-S diet and I think you’ll see both the overlap and the easy way to merge the two.

    The other piece he is missing is the role that trans and saturated fat play in heart health.

    This is pretty much beyond dispute at this point. Even if your weight is great and you look fit as a fiddle, if you eat a diet loaded with trans and saturated fat, you are more likely than not asking for heart trouble down the road.

    My own basic plan is like this (it’s not quite as simple as Engel’s, but close)…

    Monday through Saturday:
    *Breakfast-low carb, no seconds
    *Lunch-low carb, no seconds.
    *No snacks
    *Dinner-reward meal. Eat what you want (even a small dessert) with the following restrictions. No seconds on your plate, no seconds on your dessert. Choose foods low in saturated fat, and with NO trans fat. You could definitely skip the dessert in the manner of the no-S diet and you’ll do even better. I find that I can substitute fruit as a dessert at least a couple of times a week, but with three kids under 7, the idea of an entirely sweetless dinner 6 days a week is a hard sell at this point…though we are moving in that direction.

    Sunday (which is technically a ‘feast’ day in the Church Calendar each week, so it fits perfectly with the concept):

    Three meals of basically whatever I like in whatever quantities I like (not to the point of gluttony). I usually get up early on Sundays and make a special Dad’s Sunday morning breakfast (this is a bit of a tradition at this point). A typical breakfast might be chocolate chip pancakes (with lite syrup), hash-browns, sausage, bagels and whatever the heck else we feel like. Lunch and Dinner follow the same rules. Still no snacking between meals.

    OK…just wanted to put my 2 cents in in case anyone finds it helpful. 😀

  22. Colleen

    I like the idea of saving sweets for special days. In the past (but, unfortunately, not at the present moment) we’ve made a rule in our house that Sundays were “free” days. We made it a true feast day and we ate all the special foods. But, the rest of the week we cut out the sweets and made more healthy food choices. I worked wonderfully and I saw most of the benefits you talked about from the “No S Diet.” Thanks for the reminder that we need to get back into that habit.

    And, as a fellow six foot tall woman, that is not ginormous! Of course it’s taken me most of my 30 years to get comfortable with my height. But, now I wear high-heeled shoes on occasion even though my husband is only 5’8″. Tall girls rock!

  23. Multiple Mom T

    As someone with blood sugar and insulin issues, this would definitely NOT work for me. I’m actually supposed to snack–in a healthy way– to keep my levels, um, level. 😀

    I’m glad it’s helping you, though!

  24. Ronnica

    Thanks for writing about this. I know I need help with what I eat, but it’s so easy to pretend it’s not a problem. I’m single, so no one really sees what I eat or how much. I find it all to easy to say, “Oh, I can have a shake today too,” even if I had one yesterday. I really like the concept of this “diet” except for the no snacking thing. I get the idea, but I’ve found myself to be hyper-sensitive to my blood sugar level, and I struggle if I don’t eat at least every 4 hours. What I can and should do is limit what I eat at snack time to something healthy and a good portion to allow myself to be hungry again at meal time. I think that I’m going to re-up some good habits on Monday (I had a week of vacation and a super busy week following vacation, so I’m going to try to get back to “normal”), and start working on this, too.

  25. Dean

    I have been doing Weight Watchers for over two years now. We use points to help us be mindful of what we eat and how much. I am down some 25-30 pounds and within my target range. The weekly meeting with others who are fighting this fight is essential for my staying with it. I think one could do the S-diet along with this. But, for whate it’s worth, WW has helped me.

    Dean in Wisconsin

  26. Shelly W

    This is exactly what we do in our house if we’re needing to lose a few. I really think my great-grandma had it right: “Everything in moderation” she used to always say. I totally agree.

    My daughter is 6 feet tall. You surely know how hard it is to be 16 and labeled a GIANT by everyone at school. Poor thing. I tell her that someday she’ll love it, but for now (and for the past few years) it’s a little hard to take.

  27. Anonymous

    I am a little concerned about this. While the idea seems great and will work for some people and on the surface I like it, it doesn’t work for everyone. Yes, my diet and the amount that I eat could use work. I had gestational disabetes when I was pregnant. I had very strict eating guidelines to follow….this INCLUDES SNACKS!!! I seem to need red meat almost daily to maintain energy. Nursing and pregnant women need more food and more often. And some of us become much more than crabby not tomention sick when going for extended times without food —especially when we over-extend ourselves!

  28. Penny

    I use Weight Watchers as well, and I would definitely recommend it. I dropped a significant amount of weight in a relatively short period of time. Anyways, another “S” you might want to try avoiding is soda. I really only drink water these days, and I think that has helped a lot with the weight loss and it is so much healthier than soda or even juice, which has a lot of sugar. I don’t even really miss all the other crap I used to drink.

  29. Anonymous

    Well, about a month ago, I was doing
    considerable thinking about why
    I remove 15 # and put them right back on: grazing, sweets, snacks, diet soda etc. Used to lie/rationalize that nobody thought I weighed as much as I did and all the exercise I love to do permitted excess eating.
    I confess gluttony regularly, but the priest looks askance and even said once,” You might want to look up the definition of gluttony.”
    According to weight charts I am
    30 pounds overweight.
    A month ago I thought why not just eat three meals a day and really think about what you are putting on the plate.
    That plan lasted 3 weeks, lost 8 pounds and then fell off the wagon
    without giving it enough time to
    become a HABIT.
    So..your post has given me the necessary kick to give it another try.
    p.s. Isn’t it interesting that
    spiritual posts get NO or one comment. But weight/appearance posts get over 28, including mine?
    Vanity? Attachment to appearance?
    gluttony? Who knows..
    I mean, look, I just posted too!

  30. Lisa

    Thank you for inspiring me to look how gluttony is a problem in my life! Now that I realize it, I have to do something about it. I know I have to pray pray pray!

  31. 'becca

    I strongly agree that Soda should be an S! Another way to look at it is to consider artificially sweetened foods/drinks to be Sweets because of the effect they have on your metabolism. Soda drinkers, consider lemonade or water with lemon–see link behind my name.

    SteveG wrote:
    I find that I can substitute fruit as a dessert at least a couple of times a week, but with three kids under 7, the idea of an entirely sweetless dinner 6 days a week is a hard sell at this point…
    I want to mention, for Jennifer and anyone else whose kids are young enough that the family habit might be more easily changed, that one of the best food-related things my parents did for me was to present “dessert” as a separate mini-meal served an hour or two after dinner. Typically it was something sort of sweet and sort of healthy, like fruit cobbler, oatmeal cookies, or yogurt with jam. Not only did I develop a taste for that kind of “dessert” rather than a sugar wallop, but I learned to fill up on healthy dinner without saving space for dessert.

    People concerned that eliminating Snacks would mean eating too infrequently: Consider scheduling more than 3 meals. Plan what to eat for your extra meal(s), and sit down to eat it mindfully. For some people, eating more often (but the same amount of total food) speeds up the metabolism.

  32. RedSalamander

    I am trying to pinpoint exactly when everyone became brainwashed that we cannot possibly go more than 2 hours without eating. When I was a kid, in the early ’70’s, we were rarely given snacks between meals — everyone knew those led to Cavities, Getting Fat, and Ruining Your Dinner. Also, food was only available from your kitchen (where your mom controlled the source), or from certain food-selling edifices like supermarkets or restaurants, or perhaps a vending machine if you were lucky. Bookstores did not sell food. Gas stations did not sell food. Stores that were not supermarkets did not sell food, except for Woolworth’s lunch counter (where you had to sit down and order your food).

    Nowadays, you cannot go 20 feet without being confronted with a display of candy, chips, pretzels, etc., positioned exactly at kid height. Snacks are served at EVERY social function; my children would start salivating on their way to Sunday school because they knew their good behavior would be rewarded with copious amounts of Goldfish crackers (thus eliminating any chance that they would eat lunch after church).

    I think we had snack time in kindergarten, when we were given two graham crackers and a Dixie cup of Kool-Aid, but now even my third-grader gets snack time — an hour before lunch, no less, with the predictable result that she never eats her sandwich and apple!

    I attend a ladies’ Bible study that starts at 9:30. Every week, someone is assigned to bring a snack. “A snack?” I groaned. “Why on earth do full-grown adult women, most of whom are trying to lose 10 lbs on any given day, require a snack two hours after breakfast?” Indeed. And everyone seems to try to outdo each other with the scones, the muffins, the coffeecakes, etc.. It’s fairly obvious why some of us have so much trouble losing weight.

    I don’t generally pack snacks for my kids when we go out, unless we are going to be out, say, at the beach for five hours. Even then, I pack minimal food, because I’ve noticed that picky eating is in direct proportion to how many snack items they have ingested during the afternoon.

    It drives me nuts when we go to the playground, and other moms start pulling out giant sacks of chips, crackers, cookies, fruit roll-ups, etc., and then my kids stop playing and ask me plaintively what did WE bring. “Nothing…you just had lunch thirty minutes ago!” Then they go and give the puppy-dog eyes to anyone with a crinkly package. Everyone is glaring at me like I’m some sort of child-starving monster, and I’m growing increasingly annoyed with everyone for making what should be an opportunity for fresh and and exercise into an all-you-can-eat buffet.

    I totally think the No S guy is right on with this. Check out the rest of his site; he has some great “duh!” solutions to things like slothfulness, drunkeness, and gluttony!

  33. Anonymous

    LOVE your post Red Salamander. I got so annoyed with having to send a snack in with my daughter because I would give her fruit and everyone else would be eating Drake’s coffee cakes or chocolate covered granola bars(despite the fact that the teacher had said healthy snacks). Everyone is so used to bribing kids with snacks it’s no wonder more and more kids have weight problems.

  34. Jo Cole-Duncan

    I was looking for some spiritual writings as I contemplate “gluttony” and was delighted to findmyselfback in your blog, again. So, nearly five years after this entry, with all of the good comments, I wonder about the sustainability of this reframing of the topic. Did it have staying power? If yes, how…. (And thank you – it’s all been so helpful.)

  35. Heidi

    I really appreciate this post.


  1. Conquering the Addiction to Gluttony | Veritas delectat - [...] was incorporating prayer into the fabulous No-S Diet plan for conquering gluttony, and that took me a long way…but…

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