What is a Halal Diet? – It’s Common Sense
In real terms when we ask what is a halal diet we don’t mean the exact ingredients of the diet but more what the dieting process involves. In basic terms a halal diet is simply a common sense diet with halal ingredients.
Do diets work?
Absolutely – Over a short period of time only. That is why they are so popular and people are willing to pay money over and over again for one type of fad diet and then another when that does not work. Each promises faster results than the previous one.
Easy come easy go. That saying does not just apply just to money; it applies to weight loss too. It is not easy to lose weight. Let us take a closer look at fad diets and why they are so popular.
They give a time frame
Fad diets are tough and they test a person’s will power. However, because it’s for a specific time, say two weeks, most people are able to finish the diet with the knowledge that each day brings that day closer when they are done with the diet.
They promise an easy way out
The majority of people will choose the easy way out. Why expend unnecessary energy if there’s a simpler way? It is human nature to go for the smoothest road. The makers of fad diets have done their homework and they are aware of this human weakness.
So they’ll promise you that in two weeks (sometimes even days!) you will have lost this amount of weight. And you will jump at the chance to shed that unwanted weight as fast as you can with the minimum amount of effort and time.
So what is wrong with that?
• Timescale: How long did it take you to gain that weight? Probably years. That means you also need time to take it off just as you gained it.
• Losing essential nutrients: Fad diets encourage you to eat a few types of food and neglect others. The body requires all 45 different nutrients every day for it function at an optimum level. For that burst of energy when you wake up in the morning you need to fuel your body. And this you can only do by giving the body all 45 nutrients.
• Saggy Skin: When you lose weight rapidly, the skin does not get sufficient time to tighten. Instead when the weight goes off the skin is left hanging, and it is unsightly. The only way to lose weight and tighten your skin is by doing losing the weight gradually.
• Light at the End of the Tunnel: Because the brain has adjusted itself to a specific time when the fad diet will be over, there is also the anticipation that goes with knowing that you can eat anything once the diet is finished. You congratulate yourself on finishing the diet by eating of course.
• Old Habits: You resort back to the old eating habits and within no time the weight you had lost is back-and then some. You’re back to square one, except this time even your self-esteem has taken a beating. You label yourself and the diet as a failure.
Who benefits from the billion dollar diet industry?
Magazines sales – Millions of magazines are sold every day and one of the ways they increase sales is by focusing on weight loss. The global overweight percentage is 60% of the population. If these diets work, why is this percentage of overweight people not falling? The answer of course is that these diets are not meant to work in the long term.
Book sales –There are hundreds of books dedicated to dieting. They make big promises in return for the dieter sticking to a certain type of food. If a particular diet did not work, you’ll try out another diet book that makes even bigger promises, thereby enriching the authors and the publishers.
Pharmaceutical companies – Manufacturers of dieting pills are also big winners. They make millions of dollars by promising results. The only thing you need to do is to pop a pill once a day for a couple of weeks and the weight is off.
What they cannot mention however is that these pills are a potential health threat. Most of these pills contain a substance called sibutramine, which has been linked to high blood pressure, seizures, heart attack, stroke, liver failure and depression.
Manufacturers of food/drinks – To capture overweight people trying to lose weight these manufacturers promote products that promise low calories and reduced sugar or no added sugar trying to convince those looking at losing weight.
The additives and preservatives in some of these products are just as bad as a plateful of deep fried food. They know that consumers rarely read or understand food labels.
Diet facilities – These guys make tons of money from people desperate to shed weight. They promise you weight loss at the end of your month long stay. However, they fail to mention their long term success rates. How many of their patients manage to keep off the weight over the long term?
By taking you away from your environment, you manage to stick to their diet but once you return to your normal daily life, you pick up from where you left off. And the weight piles back on.
The list of this billion dollar industry is growing but we’ll stop there for now.
How should I lose weight the healthy way?
By eating less than your body uses and by exercising more than you currently are
If you eat and don’t burn those calories, they are stored as fat in your body and that is how you gain weight. However if you eat and exercise and burn even more calories than you have eaten, then the stored fats are burned as well. The weight starts to come off. It really is just as simple as it sounds.
How much is overweight?
As an adult, you are overweight when your Body Mass Index (BMI) is between 25 and 29.9 and if your BMI is over 30, you are classified as overweight. BMI is a measurement of human body fat based on their weight and height.
Bear in mind though that these are only guidelines for being overweight and do not take into account things like bone structure for example.
In my humble opinion you are only overweight if you think you are and those closest to you also advise you so. This is, of course, without entering into a psychological analysis of what makes individuals think they are overweight in the first place!
The Common Sense Diet
The simplest, safest and healthiest way to lose weight is by a common sense approach. You don’t need to shock your body forcing it into panic mode, no. Just read on and make minor adjustments to your diet and lifestyle and guaranteed the results will follow:
Remember we talked about burning the entire calories intake so as to lose the weight. One way to do this is by reducing the amount of food you eat. Simply serve yourself less food than you normally would and do not return for seconds!
Some people find using smaller plates or bowls helps with this
Cut down on carbohydrates
Your body needs carbohydrates to work well, however some carbohydrates are healthier than others. There are three types of carbohydrates.
- Sugar – It occurs naturally in fruits, milk and milk products and there is also the processed sugar added in processed foods such as cookies and cakes.
- Starch– foods high in starch include peas, corn, beans, potatoes, rice, grains, pasta, bread and crackers.
- Fibre – It comes from plant foods such as beans, legumes, fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and many others.
Although the body does require carbohydrates for the energy, it is important to reduce your carbohydrate intake in order to reduce you overall calorie intake. It is also important to stay away from processed sugar.
Cutting back on flour, bread, potatoes, pasta etc. will make a huge difference to you physical makeup. Many dieters comment on reduced waistlines just by cutting back on the carbs.
When you do feel the urge for any of the above go for the wholemeal or brown options instead.
Enrol in a gym and attend at least three times a week. If the gym is not for you, then incorporate walking into your daily activities, better still take up swimming. Swimming is one of the best all round exercises you can participate in.
There are many ways in everyday life to make sure your body gets its much needed exercise.
- Take the stairs rather than the elevator.
- Park further from where you are going and walk the rest of the way
- Get off the train or the bus a few stops earlier
- Stand when you can sit
Cut down on Sugar
Sugar is a big culprit in the fight against weight. Start by reducing the amount of sugar you take in tea or coffee. Do it gradually so that you don’t find the change too big. For example if you take two spoonfuls of sugar in your tea/coffee, reduce it to one and half spoons.
Your craving for sugar will be satisfied yet you have moved a step closer to eliminating sugar in your diet. In another two weeks, reduce it by another half a teaspoon, and in no time at all you will have eliminated sugar in your beverages.
By cutting down on sugar you will also get rid of a lot of processed foods. Cakes, biscuits, fizzy drinks, chocolates, desserts, doughnuts- all these foods contain sugar. Swap them for water, fruits, fruit salad, nuts, brown toast and soon you will see a difference in your energy levels and weight loss.
Tips for successfully embracing the healthy way to lose weight
There are some things you can do to make the journey towards a healthy lifestyle easier and increase your success rate.
When you wake up, drink a glass of water. Between meals, drink water. When eating your meals, take sips of water. Water is filler and stops you from feeling hungry and eating too much. Sometimes the body signals for water but we instead read that signal as hunger.
Apart from keeping you feeling full water has the added benefit to your appearance making your skin smoother and clearer. And water is free. You’ll save a lot of money by drinking water instead of fizzy drinks and commercial juices.
Rather than pay someone to shovel snow or mow the lawn, do it yourself. Look for physical activities that you can do around the home. You could mop the floor, wash your car, wash windows, the list is endless. This is especially important for a person who leads a sedentary lifestyle. Keep your body moving for the maximum benefits of exercise.
Prepare home food instead
Try as much as possible to eat home cooked food. Home cooked food contains fewer fats, less chemicals and additives. Also it is impossible to practice portion control in a restaurant. They serve huge meals on large plates so you end up eating too much food for a single meal.
Never shop when you are hungry
Research has shown that people who shop when hungry tend to buy a lot of unnecessary food most of which is ‘junk’ food. However if you shop when your stomach is comfortably full, your able to exercise restraint and to buy healthy foods.
Increase the size of your meal with vegetables
Besides reducing the risk of diseases, the fibre in vegetables fills you up quickly and you are able to decrease the amount of carbohydrates that you will take. Vegetable are low in calories and fats and none contain cholesterol.
Eat three meals a day
For someone trying to lose weight, it is important to make sure that you eat all three meals and a snack in between if you get hungry. By eating three meals, you spread your calorie intake throughout the day so you don’t get too hungry between meals. The temptation to reach for the nearest food (most likely something with sugar or fat) is eliminated because you feel full most of the day.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a dieter is skipping meals, don’t do it!
Reduce your alcohol intake
Okay we know we shouldn’t drink alcohol, however, we also probably know many Muslims who do. Alcohol is bad for your waist and also for your arteries. Alcohol clogs your arteries with cholesterol and it also contains calories which contribute to weight gain. Some alcoholic drinks contain as much calories as a meal. Alcohol increases hunger pangs. You end up eating a lot when you’re drinking alcohol.
The benefits of losing weight the healthy way
Other than the biggest benefit of all which is the fact that gradual weight loss tends to stay off rather than reappear a few weeks later there are several other aspects to this approach:
· Reduced risk of diseases – There are many diseases linked to obesity like various cancers, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, gout (it’s caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood and is common with overweight people), arthritis and asthma.
· Reduced aches and pains -You know the way you feel pain somewhere inside your body or muscles aches and when you go to a doctor there’s no plausible answer to why you are feeling like that?
When you lose weight through eating less and exercising these pains and aches become a thing of the past. The body functions at optimum levels because you too are treating it with respect.
· Increased energy -There is no worse feeling than waking up in the morning and been enveloped by fatigue. It does not make sense to sleep for seven or more hours and wake up feeling like you have run a marathon. As soon you change your lifestyle by reducing carbohydrates, portion control and exercising, you wake up each day full of energy which does not abate throughout the day.
· Improved sleep– because you feel energized throughout the day, you get to do a lot more physical exercise and by bed time, your body is tired and ready for bed. You sleep much better and you reduce snoring. Snoring happens when airways are blocked. Overweight people tend to snore more than average weight people.
· Feeling of wellbeing – Long forgotten ambitions arise and you go about your day feeling happy with yourself. Because of your success in losing weight you start to believe that you can do anything.
And indeed you can. Long forgotten ambitions and dreams resurface and your life feels and becomes meaningful again.
· Improved fertility – Excessive weight is closely associated with infertility. It is said that the excess weight interferes with the fertility mechanisms. Excessive weight also causes miscarriages in pregnancy and also medical complications like high blood pressure, pre eclampsia, gestational diabetes and congenital abnormalities.
· Avoid depression -Losing weight and consequently feeling good about yourself keeps depression at bay. Losing weight boosts your self-confidence and the chance of being weighed down by depression are extremely low.
So To Summarise:
- Cut back on Carbohydrate intake
- Cut back on sugar intake
- Reduce portion sizes
- Increase activity
So What is a Halal Diet? It’s just common sense….. It really is that simple!
Losing weight the healthy way is a deliberate choice only you can make. It involves incorporating exercise into your daily routine and planning your meals beforehand so that you always have healthy meals at hand.
Many people have now realised the fruitlessness of fad diets and are turning to exercise and healthy eating to achieve and maintain their optimal weight.