Ramadan Deal: Feed your Faith; Spare your Waist!

ramadan-overating

                                             Image Courtesy www.thefitnessgrail.wordpress.com

As I was sitting in my lounge, penning down my grocery shopping list for the weekend, I realised that the month of Ramadan was not too far and probably in a week or two I’d have to make a more comprehensive list of grocery supplies for the Holy month. My ever wandering mind drifted back to those good old days in Pakistan where we enjoyed the blessings of Ramadan with our loved ones- mum waking us up for Sehri, being constantly aware of “no backbiting” in office, Taraweeh, those deliciously mouth-watering Iftar by mum! Oh and how can I forget those Iftar trips to various restaurants!

The Drop-Dead deals

The Iftar trips had started some 12-13 years back for me when the Pizza Hut- all you can eat banners- had taken Karachi by storm. I think that Ramadan, I visited Pizza Hut twice for the “all you can eat” deal, and now when I think back to that day- I laugh at myself! All I had that day were perhaps three slices of Pizza, some salad, and perhaps, two glasses of cold drink. And, I hardly got a place to offer my Maghrib prayers that day. So much for the tempting all you can eat!

The magic in 99

And then, it started to become a habit, more of a hobby, to explore the “all you can eat” deals of various restaurants. It wasn’t just me- school, college, and even at work, there were always discussions about where we would go out for Iftar. Just like branded lawns, this started to become a trend. And, the prices kept going up Rs. 299 then Rs. 499, and now perhaps, as high as Rs. 1499 with each restaurant, offering a different variety in its so-called “all you can eat”. And, we kept encouraging these restaurants to keep hiking their prices. Trust me- when I say that there may be over a hundred restaurant offering Iftar deals in Karachi alone, but still they are met with an unlimited demand. What we fail to realise is that no matter how much we eat at these Iftar buffets, the restaurant still manages to earn more than 100% profit on it.

Go on a diet and donate!

However, thinking rationally- if on an average I am spending Rs. 1000 per visit, and I am going out thrice, that means I’ve thrown away money that could have fed a poor family of four for not three days, but for a whole month!

Looking at the value for money, we get at these Iftar expeditions; I’d say they are a bit too extravagant. Moreover, in order to try out each delicacy offered at these buffets, we tend to waste a lot of food as well. Spending so much, and then ending up wasting food too; isn’t that quite contrary to the purpose of Ramadan and fasting?

Allah (swt) has said in the Quran: “…and eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not Al-Musrifoon (those who waste by extravagance).” (Al-A’raf 7:31)

And again,

“And give to the kindred his due and to the Miskin (poor) and to the wayfarer. But spend not wastefully (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift. Verily, spendthrifts are brothers of the Shayatin (devils), and the Shaytan (Devil – Satan) is ever ungrateful to his Lord.” (Al-Isra 17:2 -27)

Need I say more? Let’s imagine that perhaps if each of us decides to forgo at least one such Iftar trips this Ramadan, and I mean just one (I know it’s pretty hard to give up on the whole institution of “Iftar deals”), and donate the amount you would have spent on that lavish meal to someone who needs it.

Surely, our religion has made Zakat obligatory for this very purpose; however, modesty and helping the needy has always been encouraged by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (sa) and Quran. Moreover, if spending Rs. 1000 to help someone could save you from some accountability on that day, I believe it’s not a bad deal!

Hence, this Ramadan let’s change the trend! Let us not be too extravagant in our behaviour. Re-think the restaurant trips, and strive to bring a change. Who knows giving up one such trip, and feeding a hungry stomach might bring so many Duas, happiness and abundance to you. Insha’Allah.

Busting Some Common Food Myths

Image courtesy http://www.virtuaforwomen.org/

Image courtesy http://www.virtuaforwomen.org/

“O you who believe! Make not unlawful the Taiyibat (all that is good as regards foods, things, deeds, beliefs, persons, etc.), which Allah has made lawful for you, and transgress not. Verily, Allah does not like the transgressors.” (Al-Maidah 5:87)

Allah (swt) has created a beautiful world full of His bounties for His creatures. Shukr, or being thankful for these bounties, is enjoined on people in countless passages of the Quran. In the above verse, Allah (swt) discourages us from adopting extremes in behaviour. Let’s relate this to some common food myths being practiced currently.

Eight glasses of water a day

People are generally advised to drink “an 8-ounce glass of water, 8 times a day,” which makes 1.9 litres. In reality, water requirement depends upon many factors, such as one’s health, level of activity, and location. On an average, in a moderate climate, men are required to take 3 litres (about 13 cups) of total beverages in a day and women need to take 2.2 litres. It is also important to include all fluid intake towards the daily total. Water intake needs to increase in certain conditions, such as for pregnant or breastfeeding women and people who are suffering from vomiting, diarrhea or other conditions that cause unusual water losses.

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Losing it the Healthy Way

losing weightThe trendiest topic in town, which has been the subject of countless arguments and has been researched mercilessly, is weight loss. You only have to type the word “weight” in the Google search bar, and the first suggestion will be “weight loss”. All of us at some point in time may feel the need to lose excess weight. Speaking as a medical student, in this day and age, if you really want to avoid or improve chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular and hormonal diseases, you will have to adopt a healthy lifestyle, and maintain a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index).

Yes, we’ve all heard about “diet and exercise” playing a cardinal role in weight loss, but how do you actually achieve it? We diet for two weeks and then gain the lost weight right up! We go to the gym for a few days, see no change, and then drop the whole idea. Some people even follow aggressive diets that cause nutritional deficiencies; these manifest themselves in extremely irritating ways such as mouth ulcers, sore gums, joint pain, spots on the face, marks on nails, paleness of the skin and conjunctiva of eyes.

If you really want to lose weight and not regain it, you will have to follow a structured plan which does not threaten to compromise your health.

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Sunnah Living is Healthy Living

sunnah

Changing of habits takes time. Lifestyle modification according to the Sunnah requires a lot of effort, perseverance, and most importantly, Duas.

Diet Correction

A renowned Arab doctor, Al-Harith, states that “diet is the head of medicine”. We should begin the change by incorporating whole wheat or multi-grain breads, Chapati (Roti), raw milk or natural dairy, cane sugar, rock salt or Himalayan salt, white butter and mustard oil, organic chicken and eggs in our diet. Olive oil should be used, but avoid overheating it, as it then becomes toxic.

Abu Hazim narrated: I asked Sahl bin Sad: “Did Allah’s Apostle (sa) ever eat white flour?” Sahl said: “Allah’s Apostle (sa) never saw white flour since Allah (swt) sent him as an Apostle, till He took him unto Him.” I asked: “Did the people have (use) sieves during the lifetime of Allah’s Apostle (sa)?” Sahl said: “Allah’s Apostle (sa) never saw (used) a sieve since Allah (swt) sent him as an Apostle, until He took him unto Him.” I said: “How could you eat barley unsifted?” He said: “We used to grind it and then blow off its husk, and after the husk flew away, we used to prepare the dough (bake) and eat it.” (Bukhari)

Prevention strategies

Imam Ibn al Qayyim, in the light of Prophet’s (sa) guidance, explained the phenomenon of preventive measures hundreds of years ago. There are two kinds of prevention strategies: first is to abstain from what might bring illness (for a healthy person); the second is restricting one’s self from something which might intensify the illness (for an ailing person).

Foods and healing

Imam Ibn al Qayyim says that the type of food that one finds tasty and is preferred by the person will be accepted by the body and, hence, digested in the best possible way. As recorded in Ibn e Majah, Ibn Abbas (rtam) narrates: “Once, the Prophet (sa) visited a sick person and asked him: ‘What do you have a taste for?’ The man said: ‘I have a taste for wheat bread, or I have a taste for a cake.’ The Prophet (sa) then said: ‘Whoever has wheat bread, let him send some to his brother.’ He also said: ‘When your ailing patients have a taste for something, give them some of it.’” (“Healing from Medicine of the Prophet (sa)).

The two-meal concept

Extensive research has been carried out on the benefits of fasting. The two-meal concept is being embraced globally, especially by naturopaths, integrative medical doctors, and holistic nutritionists. The scientific roots of this lie in the body clock that Allah (swt) has placed in our brains, that is, the suprachiasmatic nucleus, which regulates the peak times of dominant body functions. Breakfast should thus be consumed from four to nine in the morning, which marks the peak of digestion. From nine in the morning till four in the afternoon is the time for intellectual functioning, when the system is best for educational tasks, religious duties, household tasks, and office work. The harmony of mind, body, and soul enables a person to experience these peak timings. Lastly, dinner should be taken from six to seven in the evening. During the day, when the brain and body are performing intellectually, small snacks can be taken to boost the brain and maintain energy.

Hot and cold foods

Consumption of extremely cold or extremely hot foods is a grave error. Boiling soups and chilled drinks, for example, give a shock to the stomach. The temperature of the food is of utmost importance, as it helps in digestion. If we take very cold foods, the stomach contains them until the temperature is normalized, and, hence, digestion is delayed. We have to remember that Allah (swt) has naturally made the internal temperature warm.

Water

During summers, most of us are in the habit of drinking juices and refrigerated water in large amounts. Excess water intake can be dangerous for the kidneys and skin, and can cause water retention. One should abstain from commercialized bottled water, and use filtered or boiled water at home instead. Water intake is healthiest if taken half an hour before meals and one and a half hour after meals.

Other lifestyle changes

Lastly, proper stress management and sleep is also very important for the overall health of an individual. Spiritual people have more healthy eating habits than others. We should apply the concept of Sabr and Shukr (patience and gratitude) while we make the necessary changes in our daily life. Also, we should contemplate over the Prophet’s (sa) way of eating, sleeping, and worshipping Allah (swt) in order to realize that our body is an Amanah and it has a right over us.

Adapted by Mariam Saeed from “Sunnah Living is Healthy Living” – A Webinar organized by Hiba Magazine and Fasiha.

 

Eating Healthy

Vol 6 - Issue 3 Eating HealthyBy Madeeha Akhtar 

Today, obesity is a widespread problem that inflicts numerous people across the globe. After having struck the developed world, obesity is now making its way into the developing world.

People from middle and high income groups are steadily falling prey to this debilitating condition. The diets of adults and children have gradually changed to include more of fast, fatty and junk foods. Moreover, lives have become largely sedentary and that includes children. Islam lays great emphasis on moderation. Moderation in eating can keep an individual healthy and protect him from obesity, which can further lead to: high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, cholesterol and diabetes.

Overeating is strongly discouraged in both the Quran and the Sunnah. The Quran says: “…eat of the Tayyibat (good lawful things) wherewith We have provided you, and commit no transgression or oppression therein.” (Ta-Ha, 20:81)

In addition to the Quran, many Hadeeths also encourage moderation. The Prophet (sa) said: “Man should fill one third (of his stomach) with food, one third with drink and leave one third for easy breathing.” (Ahmad)

To deal with obesity, slimming clinics and health clubs are springing up in various areas. They provide intensive diet plans and exercise schedules that promise as much as 12-15 lbs of weight loss per week. To speed up the weight loss even further, they also offer drugs. Such diet plans that encourage rapid weight loss are not only futile but hazardous. They often lead to such diseases as anorexia nervosa and bulimia, and, to top it all, the weight lost through such programmes is often regained. Islam provides a solution to this problem.

Fasting in Ramadan leads to gradual weight loss of about 1-2 lbs per week. This steady and measured weight loss does not present any health risks. In addition to this, the Quran and Sunnah also recommend certain foods, such as honey, dates, figs, milk and olives, for their healing properties. Here are some tips that an individual can follow to build good eating habits, loose weight gradually and sustain it. 

Never Skip Breakfast 

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Our body is deprived of food the whole night and breakfast kick starts our metabolism. We might think that skipping breakfast means skipping calories, but missing breakfast puts our body into a slow mode for the entire day. 

Eat Slowly

Eating slowly enables us to enjoy every bite of our meal and also makes us feel fuller. You should try to take around fifteen to twenty minutes to finish your meal. Take the time to sit and eat, rather than wolf down everything and rush off from the table.

More Meals; Smaller Portions 

Instead of having three big meals, take six smaller portions. Following this tip, you will always feel full. The body will never starve and, hence, there will be no desire to binge on unhealthy foods. 

Eight Glasses of Water Per Day 

You should start your day with a glass of water. The water will keep you hydrated and you will feel less hungry. Water also flushes out toxins from your body, and hence, you will feel less tired. Additional water intake will also be reflected in shiny, glowing skin. 

Cut Down on Sugar 

Avoid soft drinks, chocolates and other sweets. 

Be Physically Active 

Incorporate into your daily routine such small activities as taking the stairs instead of the lift and carrying a basket in the supermarket instead of pushing the trolley. We are living in an age of technology and fast food. So, while on the one hand, we are moving lesser, on the other hand, we are eating more. Being healthy in this scenario is all about controlling your diet and increasing your physical exercise. 

Some foods that help in loosing weight are: 

  • yoghurt,
  • green tea,
  • limes and grapefruits,
  • bitter gourd,
  • watermelon.