Sorry for keeping you waiting

The Amazing Shrinking Husband

UmmSuhayb takes charge of her husband’s diet and finds that more food is the answer to pain-free weight loss.

I finally took my dear husband’s trousers to the charity shop. They had moved with us three times in the hope that they’d fit once again. Dear husband felt like it was just impossible to go down in weight. Indeed, the only way the weight seemed to be going was up.



So, what appeared to be simply a typical familial pattern of enjoying too much oily or sweet food, or just altogether too much of it, coupled with little exercise, ended
up with a change in trouser size. If you’re wearing traditional South Asian clothes, this is easily remedied by a Ioosening of the shalwar’s (trousers’) drawstring. However,
this solution has serious drawbacks, including high cholesterol, diabetes and heart attacks. This was what took my father-in-law back to his Lord earlier than expected. We didn’t want patterns repeating themselves so something had to be done about the pounds that were gradually making their way onto my husband.




Wise words
Sometimes it can be really hard to take action on the advice we are given. You are probably familiar with the following hadith regarding the eating habits of a Muslim:
The Prophet (SAW) said: “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”.




But food can sometimes be just too delicious, habits too hard to do away with. Although my husband was aware there was a problem and wanted to lose weight, none of the methods you commonly hear about – Weight-watchers, cabbage diets, Cambridge diets – appealed to him. But then TV, normally a waste of time and a good way to put on weight whilst vegetating in front of it, actually gave some impetus for a change. We were watching a few lifestyle and diet programmes and one in particular gave some workable inspiration. Although we did not follow the show’s recommendations to the letter, the general principles proved invaluable.




The Amazing Shrinking Husband ‘diet’
So here is how my husband managed to lose about 15 kg (33 pounds or well over two stones). Now that I think about it, this is about the weight of my 2 year old son!
Read on as I reveal for you, dear reader, the secret to how my nearest and dearest became the Amazing Shrinking Husband. As he put it: ‘You have to change your mental attitude so that you don’t feel that you are on some kind of a diet. Rather you should think of having a healthy-eating lifestyle and pampering yourself with good stuff.’ In other words, eat abundantly of all the nutritious foods out there!


The science behind it is that your body has a need for certain vitamins, minerals and nutrients and, if all you are giving it is junk, you will have to eat much more of the
rubbish food to be satisfied nutritionally. At the same time, you will ingest many more unhealthy fats, sugar and refined carbohydrates and, as a result, you become overweight and feel terrible.




Food, glorious food
The good news is, there are some foods you can scoff (almost) to your heart’s content:
• any fruit (try smoothies, into which you can even add nuts/seeds/avocado/low fat yoghurt)
• any vegetables (although it is best to minimise potato intake)
• nuts (but avoid salted varieties and watch out for added oils)
• wholegrain rice, couscous, quinoa, pasta, and oats
• lentils and beans
• fish, seafood (shrimps apparently contain a lot of cholesterol so minimise their use)
• chicken in moderation


And the no-nos:
• Eat red meat only occasionally
• Minimise bread intake
• Keep fast food for an occasional treat




Lifestyle changes
Changing the way you cook can also help to melt away the pounds. When cooking, preferably use olive or rapeseed oil. Always try to include extra vegetables and a side
salad so that your overall meal size ends up being quite large. That way, you mentally feel you’ve had enough to eat as well as giving yourself a boost of the good stuff!




A firm favourite evening meal at our place is avocado with lemon juice for a starter, and oven-baked mackerel in a onion and garlic tomato sauce with brown rice and peas, served with a side salad, as the main course.


Snacking is a stealthy cause of weight gain and you can catch it out by making sure your snacks contain the good stuff. If you feel peckish during the day, try a big plate of
chopped fruits, some dates and some seeds or nuts. Eat as much as you want until you feel satisfied.




Another tip is to eat early in the evening, not much later than 6 p.m. Any later and the food will sit in your stomach while you are sleeping and lead to a less restful night.




In terms of drinks, my husband had his drink (preferably water) a while after eating to allow your digestive juices to work to full effect. In that way he could get maximum
nutrition from the food he eats. Avoiding caffeine has also helped to reduce my husband’s weight. We managed to acquire a taste for rooibos tea, even some of the children. Rooibos (redbush) tea is caffeine-free, contains anti-oxidants and generally relaxes you. Along with the cuppa, a couple of pieces of dark chocolate did
not result in any disappointing weighin’s!. The Scientific evidence is out there that chocolate contains for example, antioxidants, and can reduce blood pressure,(although much of the research was sponsored by well-known chocolate manufacturers!). Just make sure it’s a couple of pieces, not bars!





Get moving!
As with most weight loss plans, dietary changes need to be combined with exercise. In my husband’s case, he went jogging a few times a week. However, I must say that the dietary changes seemed to make the most difference. Despite relatives initially thinking he was too thin and not ‘healthy’, I think they have grown used to him being slightly less chubby. I hope this change also gives any future grandchildren a greater chance of getting to know their grandfather, an opportunity our children did not have.



So if you too are looking to lose weight, don’t think less, think more (of the good things you’ve been provided), and maybe some shrinking will come about!


N.B. Please consult your Doctor/ Medical Practitioner before making any radical changes to your diet.



Allah (SWT) says: ‘O you who believe! Eat of the good things which We have provided for you.’ (2:172)




Umm Suhayb is a writer and editor at Mint Writing, originally from the UK but now based in Sweden.




Cooking with the Kids