St. Gregory the Great describes the following ways of how we can commit sin of gluttony, and corresponding biblical examples for each of them:
- Eating before the time of meals to satisfy the palate. Biblical example: Jonathan eating a little honey, when his father Saul commanded no food to be taken before the evening.
- Seeking delicacies and better quality of food to gratify the “vile sense of taste.” Biblical example: When Israelites escaping from Egypt complained, “Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers and the melons, and the leeks and the onions and the garlic,” God rained fowls for them to eat but punished them 500 years later
- Seeking to stimulate the palate with overly or elaborately prepared food (e.g. with luxurious sauces and seasonings). Biblical example: Two sons of Eli the high priest made the sacrificial meat to be cooked in one manner rather than another. They were met with death.
- Exceeding the necessary quantity of food. Biblical example: One of the sins of Sodom was “fullness of bread.”
- Taking food with too much eagerness, even when eating the proper amount, and even if the food is not luxurious. Biblical example: Esau selling his birthright for ordinary food of bread and pottage of lentils. His punishment was that of the “profane person . . . who, for a morsel of meat sold his birthright,” we learn that “he found no place for repentance, though he sought it carefully, with tears.”
- The fifth way is worse than all others, said St. Gregory, because it shows attachment to pleasure most clearly. To recapitulate, St Gregory the Great said that one may succumb to the sin of gluttony by 1. Time (when); 2. Quality; 3. Stimulants; 4. Quantity; 5. Eagerness. He asserts that the irregular desire is the sin, not the food: “For it is not the food, but the desire that is in fault”.
Lord make me practice temperance throughout my day.