Channel: Tarek Kareem Harris
TAYYIB Book, Forward by Mufti Menk
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Chapter 18 true hunger versus false hunger,
most of the time we eat on a daily basis, before we get a chance to actually feel hungry. It's a routine we follow. It's quite possible, then, that many of us don't experience true hunger very often at all.
When it comes along, it's a result of a number of systems which feed information to your brain, triggering that sense of hunger. You will feel a little hungry in fasting, but nowhere near as much as you might actually expect.
Instead of true hunger, we more often experience these false hungers, the first of which is sugar hunger.
If our diet is high in sugars and starches, all carbohydrates, then our sugar levels are high immediately after a meal.
We might feel energized and full. But this is a kind of false and short lived fullness. Because in response to that sugar, our insulin levels spike up what's sharply and over the next hour or so our sugar levels will come down initially slowly and then they'll take a deep dive because of the high insulin. And when they dip low, we feel fatigued and de energized. This is the false hunger or the carbohydrate diet,
we find it very difficult to resist the urge to eat now, because your body is screaming out for more sugar. You've just plunged your sugar levels down to an unnatural level and you want to eat again.
It's a very powerful addictive feeling because it taps into the same receptors and systems which get activated when you get pleasures and rewards for example from gambling winning things, the dopamine system, so we need to respect this idea and work around it. Here's how to tackle sugar hunger. Firstly, knowledge. Now that you know, this knowledge will automatically guide you as to what you should eat more or less off. It's up to you to decide. Don't be harsh or severe with yourself. The rule is not to deny yourself these things entirely, but to delay them. It's much easier to tolerate and puts you in control.
Secondly, eat motiva foods, wholesome unprocessed foods, meat and vegetables. Even if the foods contain sugar, for example dates, they tend to have fiber alongside the sugar, slowing down the insulin spike. In general, respect your body by restricting the amount of cheap sweets and starchy foods that you eat.
Thirdly, cut out sugary soft drinks, or if you must have them restrict yourself to one kind of weak sugary drinks are almost perfect in spiking your sugar levels up and spiking your insulin up as a result.
also cut down on artificial sweeteners. As mentioned before these trigger the CPR catabolic phase insulin response as we talked about, they're not as bad as sugary drinks though.
Food timing. When eating the Prophet peace be upon him used to eat carefully and slowly, not mixing one dish with the other.
This is both mindful and respectful to the cook appreciating the flavors of each dish. But it also helps manage the sugar spike if we consider the order and manner in which to eat.
Firstly, consider eating the meat fat or vegetable elements first, slowly and mindfully and leaving the Rice's or other starchy foods to later if you can. Obviously, if they're mixed in in the dish, then that's not easy to do.
The point is that the foods eaten first will start sending signals of fullness to the brain. And they will also line the stomach preventing the most starchy foods from being absorbed too quickly.
The second type of false hunger is called conditioned hunger.
We eat at scheduled times in the day. So we are psychologically conditioned to eat at those times. The brain becomes accustomed to expecting foods as those times approach. And even though we're not hungry, as such, we are expecting to be fed. So we get this kind of conditioned hunger response, a sense of needing to eat without the actual hunger pangs.
But we quickly get used to it and mistake it for true hunger
to tackle condition hunger, again, knowledge is useful now that you
Know, you will naturally look out for this feeling more actively and start to recognize it for what it is. examine it closely, and see if you truly feel hungry.
The feeling tends to fade away once you break the cycle a few times. The added benefit is that you find yourself with more time on your hands, and less time worrying about what to eat.
Fasting is also a very good way, therefore, to deal with conditioned hunger, skipping meals, or eating at different times, guided by your wish to help your own health and earn the last pleasure, the habit of conditioning, about needing to eat even when we're not hungry.
The third type of hunger is probably the most common, or at least among the more troubling, and that is emotions. Emotional hunger is a false type of hunger,
anxiety, elation, relief, fear, frustration. Any extreme emotion can trigger a sense of false hunger, which is actually just strong emotion. We need something ironically, even anxiety about watching what we eat can trigger the same hunger. We learn to try to appease these emotions by eating. This happens because when we eat the process of consuming food is a source of primal comfort for the knifes eating is associated with being safe and provided for and these are call leavers that when we push them, they bring a sense of temporary calm in the brain.
If the intellect tries to interrupt and reason with enough,
perhaps saying, well, this won't be good in the long term, it mostly fails because enough's doesn't see beyond the next few minutes. It lives for right now. And it can overpower the intellect. We end up eating impulsively with a temporary sense of comfort, which is doomed unfortunately, to become a sense of guilt or regret or shame afterwards. That guilt is also from the knifes which is now satisfied, but become finally aware of what the intellect was trying to say.
But it's too late.
If anything, the guilt queues up for more emotional need, so we may well repeat the cycle and eat again. And so it goes on round and round. It leads to a sense of feeling trapped, not to mention gaining unnecessary weight, because emotional hunger responds especially well to high carbohydrate foods. high carbohydrate foods, trigger dopamine, quick reward chemical in the brain, the same hormone that goes up and down quickly in other forms of addiction.
So, how to tackle emotional hunger? Well again, the first step is knowledge. Many of us with emotional hunger, already know that strong, unrelated emotions drive us to eat, but we feel powerless to fight that feeling. Still, if you don't know it yet, then examine the emotion. And this knowledge will help you to recognize those emotions better and separate them from genuine hunger.
You get to see them for what they are. Emotions are transient feelings, which will fade once we just see past them.
If they don't fade at all, it's time to see a doctor because persistent feelings of anxiety, guilt, depression powerlessness may indicate a mental health issue for which we should seek help from a professional.
The second thing we can try and certainly is very helpful is to seek refuge in Allah,
praying any dua such as our biller him in a shake or new regime, or the longer one Allahumma salli ala Muhammad wa ala Ali Mohammed Baraka Salim,
or even repeating a stock for the law on its own is a powerful technique.
We are admitting our powerlessness over the knifes and invoking protection from a law against something which hurts our health. giving ourselves to a higher power removes the need to fight these strong emotions, which could overpower us on our own. Instead, we resort to waiting it out. We accept the feeling and just give it space to diminish on its own, holding on to Allah in the meantime.
Another way, is to use your breathing to try to calm the emotions. The feelings diminish while we pray. And the process is accelerated. If we take very slow breaths in and out, helping to bring calm to the knifes to the brain. remember from earlier the 510 10 five technique very simple technique extremely effective.
You just repeated a few times, over a couple of minutes, say Bismillah asked for a lot of help and focus on your breathing alone. You can do a standing, sitting or lying down, it helps to close the eyes. And it works by feeding calm signals to the knifes via a secret backdoor, your breathing rate.
The breathing rate is connected via a system of nerves and hormones. Principle nerve being something called the vagus nerve, which is a cranial nerve goes straight into the base of the brain. And it tells the knifes that things are okay, when you're breathing slowly. This takes a few minutes to achieve. But it tends to work better with a bit of practice. And once it starts working, it's remarkable how well it works. And if it doesn't work for you, don't worry, people are different. Practice it a few times to see if it improves, persist gently for a couple of weeks, twice a day. But if no improvement after that, try something else. Just move on with your day and find something
What causes that feeling of fullness.
Once you've eaten your fill, it's difficult to eat more, not because your belly is literally full. But because there are signals from your stomach telling your brain that there is food in it plenty of food. And there are also hormones which do the same.
Technically, you might actually have space in your belly to eat another full meal. The stomach is actually a very expandable stretchy organ, but you don't eat more. Because the full feeling is actually the result of brain signals sent to the brain by your stomach, electrically. It's got stretch receptors, which tell the brain that the stomach has been nicely stretched.
Still, you lose all inclination to eat anymore. And in fact, you start to feel sleepy or tired.
This is the state of mind the knifes uses to protect you from eating more and more. And it's accelerated if you've eaten very heavy meals containing especially things like high carbohydrates.
If you force yourself to eat, then the feeling of nausea starts to come through as well. And very few people can eat when they feel nauseous. It's a very effective protective mechanism.
So we've under defied one clear factor, the stomach being stretched. This gives us a clue about the first quality of healthy food. It's bulky, and natural, unrefined, with a lot of fiber in it. Seeds, leaves, nuts and whole grains, anything which has not been processed, which doesn't come in a packet or a box.
Secondly, there's something about the nutritional components of food.
It turns out that fats and proteins trigger the hormones of filmers but not carbohydrates. So when you eat, it's advisable to keep the fats and the proteins in the food and eat them earlier and eat slowly.
How else would these fullness hormones be able to do their job? No wonder people on high carbohydrate low fat diets feel hungry so much of the time.
Which leads us to ask the question, what actually happens to hunger after a period of sustained fasting?
The answer is that hunger decreases.
Science has shown this in studies conducted over recent years, you yourself will have noticed this once you get into the rhythm of Ramadan. Subhan Allah. This is clearly one of the favors bestowed on us by law as part of his promise to help those who endeavor to follow his instructions. The stomach doesn't shrink as such. It's your hormonal system that's adjusting. It's your flip into a fat burning state, you've got a new source of energy
and therefore your hunger gets less.
The first few days of fasting are the strangest. The next three or four days become a bit more normal. Before we fast, our hunger instincts are turned off. Because for most of our life before then we tend to eat when it is time to eat without really being prompted by hunger.
The longer you fast, the more readily your body is able to switch to that fat burning mode.
When fat is burned, it produces a compound called ketones, which tell your brain that you have sufficient fuel for your energy. ketones are the fats equivalent of sugar, and your body can burn ketones to gain energy all day long.
hormones will tell you that you are full after eating. Also kicking in if your body is eating its own fat.
The hormones and other signals that determine hunger also have their own times, peaking in different times of the day. Interestingly, those hormones are low when you wake up in the morning, even though you've not eaten for eight hours or more, whilst you slept.
This proves if anything, that hunger is not caused by a lack of food.
It is hormones in the brain that control hunger. Therefore, it's doubly important for us to remember why fasting, and our diet in general, is a mindset. Islam has always seen it as that we, with our modern thinking have come to leisurely take crumbs on us just about skipping food, and praying that
if we really knew the good It could do for us, we would surely reflect and moderate and pray and fast and eat with greater insight and care. The same would apply to any days we fast outside Ramadan.
They are like mini spa bricks for the mind.
If you don't eat, your body burns its own fat to get energy.
That's all there is to it. Put simply, we store fat so that we can use it. And if we don't eat, we use the body fat. We are as a global culture, under the impression that hunger is a result of skipping a single meal, and that we must always be in a Fed state. This has led us down a particularly unhealthy and frustrating path. Let's reclaim the lifestyle and the beliefs that we were always meant to adopt. But the way fasting is a key part of it. And how we eat and what we eat is a key part of it. How casually we have let such sound guidance, slip through our fingers.
And remember to take heart that is sound that your way of doing things should be a guiding principle. Prophet peace be upon him was sent as a mercy to help ease our lives, not to make things harder at all.
Love yourself as you are with all your faults and quirks. Now,
Allah loves you right now as you are now.
ask Allah for forgiveness all the time. He loves forgiving and you yourself will grow to forgive yourself to
do not be harsh to yourself. Don't demonize yourself for having wishes to eat foods, you shouldn't eat too much. You're human. If you can't deny yourself those pleasures, try to delay them. A little bit of those things is good for the knifes anyway from time to time. For a total clean break, it's better to avoid the avoidable foods all together for a few days. And the rules are better when they are given to us by God Himself. Which is why fasting is such a good way.
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