Editor's Note: Today, I am so happy to introduce our newest member of the CatholicMom.com family, Dr. Kathleen Berchelmann. A Catholic pediatrician, Kathleen is a wife and mom of four. I invite you to visit her at www.catholicpediatrics.com and to join me in welcoming her here. It's so nice to have a Catholic pediatrician "on call"! LMH

I’ve seen a whole bunch of kids in the ER recently due to gluttony.  Yes, the sin of gluttony.  Childhood gluttony can be among the most amusing (and challenging!) of parental trials.  You’ve seen it—kids who eat whole birthday cakes and throw up, or eat an entire bowl of cherries and then get diarrhea, or get punished for stealing and hording candy.  The most frequent offender in the ER, however, seems to be Flamin’ Hot® Cheetos®. Flamin’ Ho®t Cheetos® are an up-and-coming favorite junk food among kids. These spicy hot cheese-flavored snacks made by Frito-Lay are so popular that they have been specifically banned by some schools in California. Food preference experts have theorized that eating such spicy-hot foods causes the brain to release opiate-like chemicals in the brain. So kids eat them and just can’t seem to stop eating them. But what happens when you eat too many? You might just end up in the ER.

Over the past few months we have seen increasing numbers of patients in our ERs with concern for blood in their stool. A closer discussion with the patient reveals that they have been eating Flamin’ Hot® Cheetos®. Stool tests are negative for blood. The stool itself, however, has a bright red/orange color. I find it unfortunate that food labeling does not discuss the possibility of discolored stool, as this is causing unnecessary parental concern and emergency medial care.

Other food products can also cause discolored stool, including many things with red dye. A colleague of mine had a patient with red stool that turned out to be the result of attending a princess birthday party and ingesting a lot of pink icing. But Flamin’ Hot® Cheetos® seem to be the most frequent offender.

There is nothing like red runny poop or orange vomit to convince a child that gluttony has its consequences.  So I think it is time we, as Catholic parents and pediatricians, thank the Frito-Lay company for giving us Flamin’ Hot® Cheetos® and the opportunity they provide to teach the lesson of self-control.  When talking to my children after such uncomfortable experiences, I actually use the words “gluttony” and “sin.”  We talk about how their body is holy and the need to take care of their body.  We talk about self-control, and asking the Holy Spirit for help.  We use a simple prayer I learned from my son’s catechism teacher, “Holy Spirit, help me do what’s right.”

Our children are blessed that they do not yet face the temptations of most habitual sins of adulthood: alcohol, lust, gambling, etc.  If they can master self-control over Flamin’ Hot® Cheetos®, perhaps they will not struggle so much with adult temptations when the time comes.  We need to help teach them that self control.  And, we need the Holy Spirit to help us, as parents, do what is right!

What do you think?  How have sins of gluttony affected your family?  How have you approached these situations?  Tell us your story!

Copyright 2011 Kathleen Berchelmann, MD