The F̶o̶r̶g̶o̶t̶t̶e̶n̶ Ignored Sunnah: Portion Control

“I’m so full I can barely breathe.”
“I feel like my stomach is about to burst.”
“I’m about to go into a food coma.”

We often hear (or say) these expressions after having a meal with others, and laugh it off without thinking much about it. Eating a lot is considered to be normal, but what are the ramifications of this habit? We hear about how more than one out of every three Americans is obese, but it’s hard to see something as a problem when it’s a cultural expectation. When we eat out at restaurants, the plates put before us are about a foot wide, and completely filled with food. The unspoken expectation is that we’ll eat all or most of what’s in front of us, and a 500+ calorie dessert to top it all off. What we don’t realize is that the average portion size in restaurants today is more than 4x what it was in the 1950s.

A common attitude is that you can eat what you want, and then “burn it off later.” That’s clearly not happening, though, because about 67% of people who are paying for gym memberships never actually use them. Also, it’s a lot harder to burn off your calories than it is to avoid eating that extra bit of food in the first place.  Not only does eating more leave you feeling lazy (therefore less likely to workout afterwards), it’s also detrimental to your overall health. In general, more food means a bigger waist- and other areas. Weight loss is said to be about 75% dependent on diet, and only 25% on exercise.

Eating a lot is considered to be normal, but what are the ramifications of this habit?… What we don’t realize is that the average portion size in restaurants today is more than 4x what it was in the 1950s.

We live in a time where staying fit is emphasized a lot, but most of this emphasis is put on being physically active, while our plates are getting bigger. People are “fat-shamed” if they’re heavy, but if they’re slim, even if they weigh more than the photoshopped models in ads for diet plans and expensive sneakers, they’re “skinny-shamed.” If someone doesn’t pile their plate up with food that they don’t need to eat, they hear things like: “Take out more!” and “No wonder you’re so skinny.” But those people aren’t going to be losing your extra weight for you, or curing one another’s obesity-related illnesses later on in life.

We live in a time where staying fit is emphasized a lot, but most of this emphasis is put on being physically active, while our plates are getting bigger.

The solution? Follow the sunnah diet. The Prophet (saws) said, “The human being doesn’t fill any container that’s worse than his stomach. It’s enough for the son of Adam to eat what will support his back (keep him standing). If that isn’t possible, then a third for food, a third for drink, and a third for air (breathing)” [Narrated in Tirmidhi]. It’s really tempting to take out more food than you need when you’re hungry, and even to go for seconds, but think long-term: by simply controlling your portion sizes, you’ll able to avoid many health issues and also stay trim.

Also, work on developing a thick skin, because those skinny-shamers are real.

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