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Temperance in Diet

Ophelia Gherman
May 4, 2017
Imagine the world without hospitals, doctors, or medications. We could get pretty close if we were more temperate with our diet, work, and sleep.

Self-indulgence isn't new, but in today's world, self-denial and self-control seem to have lost their meaning and purpose. Our society’s addiction to food is evident everywhere, from the endless hours of cooking shows available and the various “all you can eat competitions,” to the endless demand for restaurants. Nature has been twisted, and we don’t eat to live, rather live to eat.


A food addict has little or no self- restraint over the amount of food they eat or when they eat. More serious forms of food addictions fall under mental health disorders and include binge eating, bulimia, and anorexia. The most common diseases in society such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity are impacted largely by uncontrolled eating and drinking. It is easy to see that self-restraint/self-control is lacking in our society. This begs the question: How important is self-control? 


Imagine the world without hospitals, doctors, or medications. We would all be healthy and free from pain and diseases. This utopia may not be perfectly possible here on Earth, but we could get pretty close if we were more temperate with our diet, work, and sleep. Lack of self-control not only affects our body but our environment as well. “By taking too much food, we improvidently waste the blessings of God, provided for the necessities of nature,” (Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 131). Therefore, moderation can help us be better stewards of our health and our environment.


Lack of self-control not only affects our body but our brain as well.  Overeating alters our brain chemicals by releasing dopamine hormones, causing a feeling of pleasure. It also throws our satiety hormones that are responsible for our hunger and fullness, out of balance. Overeating, even of healthy foods, is detrimental. Researchers show that overeating alters the brain similar to powerful drugs such as cocaine and heroin!  This imbalance in our brain causes an increased risk for depression, anxiety, and panic disorder.


Another term for self-control is temperance. According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, temperance means “Habitual moderation in the indulgence of a natural appetite or passion.” Another applicable definition by Ellen G. White is the moderate use of things that are good and complete abstinence from that which is harmful for the body, {Temperance, p. 3}. This means avoiding harmful substances that cause an imbalance in our bodies, such as alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and unhealthy processed foods while using in moderation those things that are healthy. 


Since intemperance in the smallest degree is just the seed for possible addictions and major health illnesses, we should strive for complete self-control. We should strive for nothing less than the best as vessels of honor and children of the kingdom.


Cultivating Temperance

Keeping a weekly journal of our eating, drinking, sleeping, and working habits is a good place to start in cultivating temperance. Making these daily notes can help identify personal weaknesses. For some, a bad habit may be "grazing" all day long, while for others it may be a constant craving for junk food, and still others it may be overeating, oversleeping, or overworking. Journaling can also help us be more intentional about our habits.


Once personal weaknesses are identified, we can avoid triggers that cause cravings. Certain settings induce a craving for snacking. Avoid such situations. Let water be your friend and hydrate instead of eating.


To keep our habits and meet our goals, we all need help, whether from family or friends, a professional, God, or all three! Changes in our lifestyle can add quality health and years to our life. Our heavenly Father loves us more than we can imagine and wishes to help deliver us from all our addictions and insecurities. 


Ask in faith and God will supply power to overcome once and for all health-destroying practices. Let us purpose on our hearts like Daniel did (Daniel 1:8) to not defile our health with overeating. Let us remember: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness," 2 Corinthians 12:6.


Will you give all your eating habits to the Lord today?