How Much Is Enough?

Now that summer has commenced, the temptations of different mouth watering foods are all around us. From the usual weekend family and friend gatherings, to the endless weddings and events we are invited too. Most of us even go the extent of not eating all day because the goal is to go with an empty stomach in order to fill it to its fullest capacity. At times, we even find ourselves so full that performing salah (prayer) becomes a struggle of its own, yet if tea and more desserts were laid out, we wouldn’t hesitate to reach for more.

Our tendencies of overeating are clearly heightened during the summer months. However, overeating has numerous negative effects on our body. First and for most, studies have shown that short term over eating not only results in short term weight gain, but even long term increase in weight (1). This means that individuals had difficulty reducing the weight since the time it was gained post overeating. Overeating can also have harmful effects on your metabolism due to a large influx of nutrients entering the body at once (2). This results in our metabolism to shut down as the excess nutrients are seen as threats to the body (2). Furthermore, an impaired metabolism can lead to metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity (2). Digestive organs such as the kidney, stomach, and liver are also compromised with overeating due to the inability to digest all the food being ingested (3). Last but not least, overeating can also impact our mental health. Our body image and self esteem is largely an outcome of what we feel about our looks (4). Therefore, when we increase in weight, our confidence in ourselves reduces resulting in a negative self image.

When it comes to the religious perspective of overeating, it is too frowned upon.  The prophet Muhammad  (S.A.W) emphasized on eating less as it being an effective method in preventing sickness and disease (5). As narrated by Tirmidi and Ibn Majid the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) said:

“Nothing is worse than a person who fills his stomach. It should be enough for the son of Adam   to have a few bites to satisfy his hunger. If he wishes more, it should be; One-third for food, One-third for liquid, and One-third for breath.”

In Islam we are also advised to avoid extremes in all affairs of our lives and to maintain moderation, this includes the way we approach food (5).

Here are some useful tips to help you practice portion control and avoid overeating;

  • Never go to a social event hungry, have a light snack prior to the event preferably foods that are rich with either protein or fiber ex. Fruits, Vegetables with hummus dip, protein/fiber bar etc.
  • When serving yourself, start by filling half your plate with vegetables avoiding the ones that are drowning in oils, then moving on to the proteins (chicken, fish, beef) being a quarter of the plate, then carbs being the last quarter of the plate
  • Have a glass of water by your side throughout time of the gathering
  • Eat slowly to allow your food to properly digest and prevent you from overeating as you provide your body with sufficient time to signal you when you are full
  • Limit your options; some of us like to try a little bit of everything and before you know it your eating for a family, so try limit yourself to 2 to 3 side dishes
  • Use your hand as guide of how to portion your food ( Guide located on tools and resources page)

Hopefully with these tips we are able to practice moderation in our day to day eating habits. After all let us not forget the saying “A moment on the lips forever on the hips.” 😉

Author; Raya Haddass

  1. Ernersson, Åsa, Fredrik H. Nystrom, and Torbjörn Lindström. “Long-term increase of fat mass after a four week intervention with fast food based hyper-alimentation and limitation of physical activity.”Nutrition & Metabolism7, no. 1 (August 25, 2010): 68. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-7-68.
  2. Nakamura, Takahisa, Masato Furuhashi, Ping Li, Haiming Cao, Gurol Tuncman, Nahum Sonenberg, Cem Z. Gorgun, and Gökhan S. Hotamisligil. “Double-Stranded RNA-Dependent Protein Kinase Links Pathogen Sensing with Stress and Metabolic Homeostasis.”Cell 140, no. 3 (February 5, 2010): 338-48. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2010.01.001.
  3. Jason Ladock, “Negative Effects of Overeating,”Health Guidence,
  4. Ipatenco, Sara. “What Are the Dangers of Overeating?” Healthy Eating | SF Gate. Accessed July 9, 2017.
  5. “Islamic Diet & Manners.” Islamic Bulletin. Accessed July 9, 2017.

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