Good news: I’m wearing a pair of my old jeans.
Bad news: I can’t feel my legs.
I am, at the moment, 25 pounds away from my previous weight and I don’t feel intimidated by the challenge. I have rediscovered an old superpower- I am the Captain of My Stomach.
My position as Captain was awarded years ago, but I had let control of the ship slip into the hands of the monkey that just happens to be aboard all self-respecting pirate ships. Incidentally the monkey (like all self-respecting monkeys) wanted nothing but bananas. The monkey didn’t care whether the way it was going was dangerous or unhealthy or silly looking in jeans that fit just last week, it just wanted bananas.
It’s not like monkeys can read, so of course the monkey wasn’t using a map (stupid monkey) so the monkey was steering the ship into Thar Be Monsters but the Captain (who had just eaten an extra helping of bananas) was too lethargic and too out of shape to do anything about it.
After a time we found ourselves in the uncharted waters of 50 pounds overweight.
Don’t get me wrong, I like bananas too. Who doesn’t like the occasional chocolate-dipped banana? And who wouldn’t want that chocolate-dipped banana to be rolled in peanut butter and deep-fried?
As Captain of my Stomach, I had to take the ship’s wheel away from the unruly stomach-monkey. (Who in their right mind lets a monkey steer a ship anyway?) It was time to try and eat according to the Sunnah.
No human being fills a container to worse effect than he fills his own stomach. It is sufficient for a human being to have a few bites to keep himself fit. If he must eat then let him use one-third for food, one-third for drink and one-third for breathing. -Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
Have you ever tried to eat according to the Sunnah, filling 1/3 of your stomach with food, 1/3 with water, and leaving 1/3 empty? It’s surprisingly difficult to tell yourself that you’re done eating long before you feel full, and that the whole idea is that you never feel full because you never fill yourself to capacity. Our whole lives we’re told to eat until we’re full (Are you done eating? Are you full?) and we celebrate by stuffing ourselves because a full stomach is equated with happiness and contentment. The truth is that a full stomach means you’ve eaten about double what you needed to, and caving to the demands of you appetite means that your brain (who knows better) is subservient to your stomach monkey (who demands more).
For me, humoring my stomach is a form of weakness, a lack of will power, and a backsliding into jaahil eating practices that took years to train out of me. Eating according to the Sunnah is not a diet or a temporary change of habits, it is a permanent way of rethinking your relationship with food and how much you need of it. Try it, and when you finally succeed, you’ll be amazed by how light, how alert, and how extremely different you feel. It will take some doing, but come on, who’s in charge, you or the monkey?