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Is it a sin to be fat?


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#41 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 01:31 AM

It was GK Chesterton that wanted more fat saints. Not St Olaf. Chesterton was an RC.


And St. Olaf was a fat saint. Go figure.

#42 John Konstantin

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 11:12 AM

And St. Olaf was a fat saint. Go figure.



Ah..that would be his medical condition.

#43 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 11:43 AM

Maybe, maybe not. Does it matter? He is still a saint. Being overweight and the health detriments it causes, may well be a consequence of the sin of gluttony, but I do not think any case has been made that being overweight, in and of itself, is a "sin". However, judging people by their outward appearance, can indeed be a sin of some consequence.

Anyone care to dispute this?

Herman the obstreperous Pooh

#44 John Konstantin

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 11:50 AM

Herman as you seem pretty keen on letting sleeping dogs lie and quite rightly not falling into judgement, what do you think the appropriate Orthodox response to the current obesity crisis in American should be?

#45 Christina M.

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 12:55 PM

Herman as you seem pretty keen on letting sleeping dogs lie and quite rightly not falling into judgement, what do you think the appropriate Orthodox response to the current obesity crisis in American should be?


In my opinion, one of the most important things is we have to get rid of the poisons we are eating, and start eating healthier. This would also mean no more hydrogenated oils. It's NOT just about eating less and moving more. Many of the poisons we are eating on a daily basis slow down the metabolism and cause more of our food to be converted to fat. Other chemicals increase our appetites and cause is to eat more. Depleted junk-foods give us empty calories without nutrition, so we still feel hungry even after eating. Processed white flours, instead of whole grains, mess up the metabolism, cause insulin resistance, and cause other blood-glucose problems including type-2 diabetes.

The American obesity epidemic began shortly after people started eating hydrogenated oils.

#46 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 02:31 PM

Most of us assume that when someone is overweight it is due to overeating. This has been proven to be untrue.

Gluttony is definitely a sin, but being overweight might not be the result of gluttony. What is definitely unacceptable is the attitude some people have (probably most people) to those who are unlucky enough to be overweight. I know people who are truly gluttons, who eat large quantities of the so-called wrong foods every day and yet still manage to be slim. We all know that anorexia is destroying a lot of young girls and we have all seen the truly terrible photos of very thin models who are supposed to be the epitome of feminine beauty. Some of them have truly ugly legs. Betty Grable was famous for her lovely legs in the 1940's. Her figure would now be considered to be too full for beauty. She would definitely not be voted America's next top model!

Surely we can find it in our hearts to accept people for who they are. They might be hugely overweight, they might be under 50 kilos. Are they good people? Are they loving people? Do they love themselves the way they are, or are they too shy to go out and make friends because they were laughed at in school? Do they stay home and eat and watch TV because of their past experiences? Those who have little self-confidence are in danger of being drawn into a vicious cycle.

How can being overweight be a sin? Being critical of another person's body is the real sin because it shows a lack of humility and a sense of superiority.

Effie

#47 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 02:50 PM

In my opinion, one of the most important things is we have to get rid of the poisons we are eating, and start eating healthier. This would also mean no more hydrogenated oils. It's NOT just about eating less and moving more. Many of the poisons we are eating on a daily basis slow down the metabolism and cause more of our food to be converted to fat. Other chemicals increase our appetites and cause is to eat more. Depleted junk-foods give us empty calories without nutrition, so we still feel hungry even after eating. Processed white flours, instead of whole grains, mess up the metabolism, cause insulin resistance, and cause other blood-glucose problems including type-2 diabetes.

The American obesity epidemic began shortly after people started eating hydrogenated oils.


When I was first diagnosed with diabetes my doctor (who is an expert in the field) told me that from now on I was to stop eating anything that has been processed.

I followed his advice and guess what? If I am feeling too lazy to cook a meal from scratch and buy something that is processed it usually tastes terrible. Yesterday, for example, I bought a frozen pack of little potato balls. I usually read the ingredients of anything I buy (another thing my doctor taught me) but for some reason I didn't with this pack because the food looked so delicious on the outside of the package. The taste was horrible, the house smelt greasy from who knows what kind of oil or whatever was used. Never again. I sometimes buy frozen vegetables but that's OK I think. Olive oil is very good but should be added 10-20 minutes before the meal is ready.

There are lots of delicious natural foods available to us. I don't usually buy organic vegetables because they are so expensive but I do wash all bought fruit and vegetables carefully and then put them in a basin of water to which I add our own vinegar. I also have two deep freezers packed with the previous years home-grown vegetables. Sometimes they last until the new harvest, sometimes they don't.

In today's world it is hard to consume only pure foods. Where would you find them? We don't have a cow or a goat for milk and cheese, we don't have livestock that we can slaughter for meat, you can only grow so many vegetables. We have to make do with what is available to us.

Everything in moderation.

Effie

#48 Georgianna

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 04:22 PM

... what do you think the appropriate Orthodox response to the current obesity crisis in American should be?


In my utter ignorance, I believe St Tikhon of Zadonsk provides an excellent starting point:

“... To look upon another – his weaknesses, his sins, his faults, his defects – is to look upon one who is suffering. He is suffering from negative passions, from the same sinful human corruption from which you yourself suffer. This is very important: do not look upon him with the judgmental eyes of comparison, noting the sins you assume you’d never commit. Rather, see him as a fellow sufferer, a fellow human being who is in need of the very healing of which you are in need. Help him, love him, pray for him, do unto him as you would have him do unto you."



#49 Rick H.

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 04:53 PM

That is excellent Georgianna. "A fellow sufferer." Thank you.

I wonder if you could cite this work so that I might read more?

#50 Nina

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 04:57 PM

The American obesity epidemic began shortly after people started eating hydrogenated oils.


lol Christina, you made me laugh so much because you are vilifying poor hydrogenated oils so much (obesity, miscarriages). :P

Seriously, God bless you for making me laugh.

#51 Nina

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 05:40 PM

It is amazing and funny how some of us tell to the others in this forum: "Do not judge." Isn't this action kind of defeating the purpose? Judging those who judge is not a lesser judging. It is funny how in this place we keep going around telling people not to judge. Condemning someone who may seem self-righteous does make the one who condemns self-righteous too - and it is very wrong esp. if ego (personal or nationalistic) is involved. I am guilty of all the above, and for all of us who tell others not to judge here is a quote:

"Neither condemn in your thoughts the one who judges. Of course he is doing something wrong. But you should look at your own shortcomings and criticize only yourself."

- St. Nephon from "Stories, Sermons and Prayers of St. Nephon: an Ascetic Bishop", pp. 110-111

Someone who judges is a "fellow sufferer" too. Why do you outcast him by your own judging? We all go in circles when we start preaching the "do not judge" sermon.

#52 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 05:49 PM

Herman as you seem pretty keen on letting sleeping dogs lie and quite rightly not falling into judgement, what do you think the appropriate Orthodox response to the current obesity crisis in American should be?


Some excellent answers have already been put forward that I am in total agreement with. I might simply add that one thing I would NOT do is tell someone whom I perceive to be "overweight" to simply stop eating, or make overly general comments that obesity is somehow a "sin", or express my "dissatisfaction" with "fat" people which really solves nothing whatsoever.

What should be the Orthodox response? Well, it just so happens that my favorite podcast, the Illumined Heart talks about that, Food & Faith. I recommend people give it a listen and consider what is being said.

Herman

#53 Christina M.

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 05:54 PM

It is amazing and funny how some of us tell to the others in this forum: "Do not judge." Isn't this action kind of defeating the purpose? Judging those who judge is not a lesser judging. It is funny how in this place we keep going around telling people not to judge. Condemning someone who may seem self-righteous does make the one who condemns self-righteous too - and it is very wrong esp. if ego (personal or nationalistic) is involved. I am guilty of all the above, and for all of us who tell others not to judge here is a quote:

- St. Nephon from "Stories, Sermons and Prayers of St. Nephon: an Ascetic Bishop", pp. 110-111

Someone who judges is a "fellow sufferer" too. Why do you outcast him by your own judging? We all go in circles when we start preaching the "do not judge" sermon.


I completely agree with this. The same thing happened on the recent "smoking" thread.

We're not pointing to specific individuals, saying: "That person is a sinner!" We are simply asking: "Is this particular action a sin? Is it a sin to smoke? Is it a sin to be fat?" It has nothing to do with judging other people.

It bothers me when people bring in judgement, saying "why should you look at other peoples' problems when you have your own?" I'm not looking at specific peoples' problems, I'm simply asking general questions concerning the sinfulness of a particular action. What good would this forum be if we can't ask questions about the nature of sin?

#54 Nina

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 06:15 PM

What do you know? There is so much love in Orthodoxy even when we sin! Remember as Fathers say, no sin is greater than God's love.

This is an excerpt from the life of our great Father and Saint: Saint Nephon (I do not think he was obese, but as he says so himself, he fought a lot with the demon of gluttony). There is always hope for all people in all kinds of situations as long as we turn to God with humility and repentance. God's love is infinite.

Gluttony

Whenever the devil fought him with gluttony, Nephon always confronted him with the same aggressiveness, and in this way he would chase him away. But he would return furious to fight him more violently.

Then Nephon, having his confidence in God's help, would say to the wicked spirit: "Today I will eat and drink, to show you that not even in this way can you keep me from prayer, because I have God as my helper."

And after he would eat and drink well, he would say to himself: "Think Nephon, that as soon as a dog eats and drinks, he barks joyfully. Well, then, you too, since you also ate and drank of all the gifts of God, you must thank Him."

Therefore, he would go to church, and with his hands raised to heaven, he would say: "Glory to You, O Christ, my God, for filling me with Your earthly goods! I beg you, O Most Merciful One, do not deny me Your heavenly Kingdom!"

To this prayer he would add even another and still another for a long time. Then he would turn to the devil and say: "Do you see, wicked and filthy one, I both ate and drank, but you did not succeed in either keeping me away from the church, or in preventing me from praying? Get out of my sight then, and go to the outer darkness!..."

- St. Nephon from "Stories, Sermons and Prayers of St. Nephon: an Ascetic Bishop", pp. 6-7

Pretty neat, do not you think? Now I do not know how much St. Nephon considered gluttony for himself. Maybe his meal consisted of 5 olives and if he ate 8 he considered himself gluttonous. However the point is that in each stage of our struggle we are there is help and there are examples of such saintly people to teach us.

I love this book and St. Nephon ...and St. Tikhon of Zadonsk and all these amazing Fathers who tell us in love the truth and criticize us and not gently at all. Oh well at least gluttony for Fathers' words is allowed at least. :P

Edited by Nina, 16 March 2011 - 06:34 PM.


#55 Nina

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 08:54 PM

In this thread there is a claim that Saint Olaf was fat.

First, we can not justify vices, passions, sins for us because at a certain point of life a Saint did also those things. For instance it is not ok to kill people just because some Saints did that at a point in their life.

Second, Saint Olaf was a martyr so whatever sins, vices, passions he might have had were all purified instantly and forgiven due to the baptism of blood he shed out of his love for Christ.

Third, Saint Olaf was NOT fat. I doubted it since I thought it might be mis-translation as it is often the case from the original language. The appropriate translation is Saint Olaf the Stout, or the Burly which means he had lots of muscle and was a very strong man. He was of thick built and actually was called Olaf the Great in his country. Not to mention the viking built was way different than what is considered fat. Definitely St. Olaf was not fat, or obese and you can read yourself how active physically he was and how able and fit he was in sports like swimming, etc. Translations can be misleading.

"When Olaf Haraldson grew up he was not tall, but middle-sized in height, although very thick, and of good strength. He had light brown hair, and a broad face, which was white and red. He had particularly fine eyes, which were beautiful and piercing, so that one was afraid to look him in the face when he was angry. Olaf was very expert in all bodily exercises, understood well to handle his bow, and was distinguished particularly in throwing his spear by hand: he was a great swimmer, and very handy, and very exact and knowing in all kinds of smithwork, whether he himself or others made the thing. He was distinct and acute in conversation, and was soon perfect in understanding and strength. He was beloved by his friends and acquaintances, eager in his amusements, and one who always liked to be the first, as it was suitable he should be from his birth and dignity. He was called Olaf the Great"

Link to quote

#56 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 09:29 PM

I don't think anyone is trying to justify being fat as much as certain other people seem to be calling being overweight a sin.

Being overweight is not a sin. Or at the very least, despite some rather strong and misleading claims, it has not been shown to be a sin in and of itself. We keep throwing that word "fat" around without definition, and that is because we all have our own definition as some have already mentioned. One person's "fat" is another person's "stout", and vice versa.

Is a symptom the same thing as a sickness?

Herman the "I'll have the Guinness Stout please" Pooh

#57 Nina

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 09:37 PM

And St. Olaf was a fat saint. Go figure.


Point is that Saint Olaf was not overweight, or fat. Stout and burly can be body construction not only muscle, but also thick bone physical construct. People with thin bones can be fat and not show it.

Herman the "I'll have the Guinness Stout please" Pooh


Herman, do not drink and drive, stout or non-stout beer, esp tomorrow. :) Now do not tell me beer is food (although it is) since Russians say they eat beer. :P

#58 John Konstantin

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 10:10 PM

This thread has been moved to " Is it a sin to have a beer belly?".

#59 Andra K.

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 11:56 PM

It has been really interesting following this topic.

Somebody asked how should the obesity epidemic be approached in the USA. Well, I know that the health clinic where I work, we take a multidisciplinary approach to health issues, including obesity. We have a multidisciplinary team and approach health issues from many angles and that seems to work best, starting with a comprehensive assessment of the issue at hand. You cannot treat what you do not understand and the only way to figure out the problem and the roots of the problem is by thorough assessment, using many tools. In order to do so successfully, each provider operates from an attitude of compassion. Patients are astute; they know when a provider is sincere and nonjudgemental versus insincere and harsh, no matter what the issue at hand is.

Most problems are complex, like an onion with multiple layers. We are always working with a patient to help them reach 'recovery', whatever that means in each case. Although we have practicing guidelines and standards, we are lucky to be able to individualize care. And yes, we even encourage spirituality/religion in the healing process. As I stated before, a part of the process would be to encourage somebody to honestly and bravely assess their eating behaviors and attitudes and to review these with their doctor, spiritual teacher and nutritionist.

Andra

PS transfats are very bad for the body--it is like putting sand in a rolex. I think 60 minutes even did a feature on this :)

#60 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 01:18 AM

Herman, do not drink and drive, stout or non-stout beer, esp tomorrow. :) Now do not tell me beer is food (although it is) since Russians say they eat beer. :P


There are those who say that beer is liquid bread. There is a form of beer from the Viking Age that is basically made from soaked bread.




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