By Fatima Lee Garsi
This is NOT clickbait! I promise!
I have been studying nutrition for several years and in 2013 became a Certified Nutrition Coach with Precision Nutrition.
I’m aware of all the latest diets out there…Atkins, keto, paleo, low-carb, carb-cycling, calorie counting, baby food (which my mom insisted I do when I was 12), and several other diets that can work – or not – depending on how easily you can adapt to these restrictions.
The most popular diet right now is the “keto” diet. People gravitate to this because they believe it’s the best diet for weight loss. I foresee this sticking around for a while since most people don’t do REAL ketosis and still get good results. As an aside, real ketosis is intensely restrictive and can be incredibly uncomfortable – you are only permitted 20 grams of carbohydrates per day, which is about a handful of grapes. What the popular keto diet does do is teach people to eat better for their body type while limiting starchy foods.
I’m not here to educate you on the Keto diet though…
I want to tell you about THE BEST diet I’ve ever learned about…
Drum roll please!
…The Muslim Diet!
Let me say this – I do not say or do things to appeal to Muslims unless I believe in it wholeheartedly.
The Muslim diet is simple, effective, easy to sustain, and as a bonus, it’s sunnah! WOW!
For people who want to improve their body composition by decreasing body fat or for those who want to maintain their weight, the Muslim diet is superb.
So how does Islam teach us to eat and why is it the best?
I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this, you understand that Muslims are encouraged to eat foods that are considered “halal.”
“Halal” simply means permissible. All fruits and vegetables are halal. Most animal products with the exception of pork are “halal” or “zabiha” if the animal is slaughtered according to Islamic guidelines.
All beverages are halal except for alcohol. Studies show that most people will use alcohol in ways that do not provide any real health benefit. Instead, drinking alcohol even “moderately” can lead to a decrease in overall health as well as impaired judgement.
Here’s a fun fact about pigs: did you know that pigs are genetically very close to human beings? This could just be one more reason not to consume them…Allah knows best!
The consumption guidelines provided in Islam are simple, but profoundly effective.
The Muslim Diet – Teaching You How to Eat!
I know you know about WHAT you are permitted to eat, but did you know about HOW you are encouraged to eat?
Balanced, Slow, and Mindful.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
“No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach…But if it must be, then one third for his food, one third for his drink and one third for his breath.”
Ibn Majah, Vol. 4, Book 29, Hadith 3349
I interpret this as an encouragement to eat slowly and mindfully, which in turn, prevents us from overeating.
One of the most important habits in my nutrition education was teaching people to eat slowly and mindfully. This helps fat loss and digestion. It helps your brain catch up with your stomach – it can take up to 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full. An added bonus is that if you’re not inhaling your food in one fell swoop, the experience of eating is so much more enjoyable – you can actually taste the complexity of flavours and textures while potentially carrying on a conversation.
A meal should not be rushed. One should sit down, chew their food well, sip water, and take deep breaths in-between bites.
Eat until you’re full, but not until you’re stuffed.
Another thing that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said was:
“Eat when you have an appetite for eating, and stop eating while you [still] have an appetite for it.”
Nuri Al-Tabarsi, Mustadrik Al- Wasail wa Mustanbit Al-Masail, vol. 16, p. 221, no. 17
Another basic habit in my nutrition education was to teach people about fullness and encourage people to only eat when they’re hungry and to stop eating when they are 70 percent full.
Eating until you’re “stuffed” causes one to not only FEEL sluggish…it releases hormones that make your fat stores very happy (they make it easier for your body to store fat!) if done on a frequent basis.
Establish a communal relationship with food.
The Prophet also said:
“The best food in the eyes of God is that food which has many hands (i.e. many people) involved in eating it.”
Nuri Tabarsi, Mustadrik Al-Wasail wa Mustanbit Al-Masail, vol. 16, p. 227, no. 11
Eating in the company of others is important for personal relationships with food. The attachment should be about the company you’re with and the experience…not the food itself. Aside from receiving blessings, you are inclined to eat more mindfully, slowly, and build a healthier relationship with food when you are in good company.
Eat what you like.
The last Prophetic habit is, in my opinion, very important:
“Eat what you like…and leave what you dislike.”
Wow! I wish my mom had better recognition of these words…the leftover lunch meat stir-fry with tofu was really great…:/
How consistent are you going to be on your “diet” if you dislike what you’re eating?
The Prophet (pbuh) enjoyed dates, honey, nuts, and olives….but, if you don’t like these foods, don’t eat them!
That being said, you are also encouraged to eat foods that give you energy. I love pasta and french fries but I know I will feel sluggish and lethargic if I eat those foods…
Knowing your Body Type will help you Know How to Eat
If you know your body type, you can choose foods that are better for your energy levels and body composition.
There are three main somatotypes (a fancy word for body types): Ectomorph, mesomorph, endomorph.
Sounds like something from a sci-fi movie, right?