Saturday, October 29, 2016

Sugar and Sunnah

Asalamu Alaykom,

As Muslims, we spend a lot of time attempting to live closer to the way of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).  It isn't only in our devotional times that we need to emulate his ways.  We were given so much authentic information about his daily habits---more than for any other prophet (peace be upon them all).  Therefore, we observe the way he lived, or the sunnah.

He didn't eat refined sugar.  He just didn't.  The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), he lived a much healthier dietary life than we do.  Actually, no one really ate refined sugar until about a thousand years after he passed away.

Does that mean we should not be eating anything he didn't eat?  I'm not going to go that far, but we do have to look at following the sunnah in which the Prophet (pbuh) tasted the sweetness of dates and honey and was satisfied with that.

Is there a chance you could reduce your sugar intake?

That's what I starting asking myself.  I looked into it not as a diet---because "I don't die it, I live it".  I looked into it as a way to be more faithful.

I started researching.

How many teaspoons of sugar is the maximum a woman should consume in a day?

Six.  A woman is only supposed to have six teaspoons in a day.

Each teaspoon is the equivalent of 5 grams, so each day women have 30 grams of sugar as a limit.

Me?  I was putting two and sometimes three teaspoons of sugar in my coffee.  Half of my daily intake was done in the first hour of every day----and you know that I didn't stop there!

Now?  I put only put one teaspoon of sugar in my coffee.  You know how we add a little too much sugar if nobody's looking?  I bought some sugar cubes!  Those sugar cubes are measured to exactly be those 5 grams.  If it's tea, I use honey.  Therefore, I am reducing my sugar intake by at least 5 grams every day.

"A DROP IN THE BUCKET!" shouts the heckler from the nosebleed seats.

He's right, but every good intention for better health has a reward.

Let's do some math...I know, you used to hate math in too!  Somehow, though, it is comforting me in my old middle-age.

If I, in shah allah, give up one teaspoon a day then every six days it's like I've given up a whole extra day of sugar.  That's good!  That's not just a drop; it's the equivalent of giving up a whole day of sugar.

It wasn't just coffee and tea.  Look at this great graphic from Mother Jones:

I started looking into the juice I've been drinking.  Time Magazine looked into the issue as well.  Here in Egypt the sugar content is very high.  The juice is more like a concentrated syrup than a beverage.  I thought that I was buying  "Pure" juice because that's what it said on the label.  I was still bringing 12 to 16 grams of sugar in every juice box I sipped for lunch.

Do the math again!  Ya, so that's 2-3 teaspoons of sugar in every box.  It felt wrong.

The next time I went to the grocery store, I brought my reading glasses and spent some time reading labels in the juice aisle.  Sure enough, I could find a juice that only listed 10-12 grams sugar.  If I was able to eliminate 5 grams, then I stopped me from unwittingly ingesting another teaspoon.


If Yosra drinks a juice box a day during the school week, and she is saving herself from drinking 5 milligrams of sugar with every juice box, how much sugar is she eliminating from her diet every month?


5 x 5 = 25 grams a week or 5 teaspoons a week
5 x 4 weeks = 20 teaspoons
20/6 teaspoons maximum per day = 3 days.

Add that to the amount I'm already giving up in my morning coffee and it's 8 days total.  Could you give up sugar for eight days?  It would be hard, but it's not impossible if you simply view it this way.  You ARE giving the days up, but while only reducing rather than eliminating.

One thing you know that is just horrible is soda pop.  I've asked for my husband to stop buying it.  If we're out at a restaurant (and that's once in a blue moon) then I don't mind if we order it.  However, having it easily accessible every day, means that you simply will drink more of it.  Pop is just too high in sugar content to consume it on a regular basis.

Take a look at Coke and Mountain Dew.  Remember, the maximum is supposed to be SIX sugar cubes.  27??  30???

I tried to explain this in the staff room.  You know how people on a health kick are!  Right away, it was assumed that it was about weight loss.  It isn't!  If I never lose another pound in my life, I'll be fine.  I would like to reduce the strain on my body, however.  I'd like to eliminate thirst that seems unquenchable because I've had too much sugar.

 Sugar really isn't harmless Click to read some easy to understand research.

Am I noticing any effects?  I am more mindful of what I'm buying and eating.  I like that because that's who I strive to be.  I ate a creme-filled cookie last week and it was waaaaaaaay too sweet for me.  I hated it.  That's a good thing!  I'm less thirsty.  My jeans fit a little better this week than last---that's good because even though I'm not doing this to lose weight, I do want to reduce the belly fat that slows down insulin production (and leads to diabetes).

Maybe you didn't think of any of this before.  Now that you have, it's up to you to either look into your own sugar consumption or not.  The problem is that once you realize you could do better, you can't ever claim that you never knew.

No food that has been made lawful to us can be declared "haram" or unlawful by us.  I'm not saying that sugar is haram.  Eat and drink it bismallah (in the name of Allah).  Only, realize that we are supposed to be people who live by moderation in all things. Obviously, we, as a society,  have not been moderate in our sugar intake.

Maybe you have battled and won---good on ya!  Maybe you're like me and you're in the throes of the struggle---keep going!  If you haven't ever given it a thought and now you're thinking about it differently----let me know!  I'd like to know if this post has a positive impact on your life.  I hope it has.

Love and Light!

UPDATE:  While talking to a co-worker, she helped me realize that the sugar content listed is really deceiving the consumer.  For example, the drink in my hand was 250 ml but the nutritional information was only for a 100 ml serving.  Therefore, the 12 grams of sugar listed needed some math.

12 x 2 = 24 (to change sugar grams from 100 ml to 200 ml)

12/2   =   6 (the additional 50 ml)

24 + 6 = 30 grams of sugar

All of a sudden what seemed like a good deal was horrible.  Instead of imbibing 2 teaspoons of sugar, I had been drinking 6 teaspoons of sugar!  Even though I was reading labels, I was misreading---and I'm an educated woman who is really investigating.  Imagine someone with less ability trying to figure it out.  It's almost as if the beverage industry has something to hide...

Therefore, take a second look at those labels!


Thankful Slave said...

Thanks Sis. Yosra, very informative indeed. But what about the sugar cane?

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom TS,

It's been a while! Nice to see you :)

Sugar cane is still a sugar---of course, right? It's just not's unprocessed. It's healthier in that it's more natural, but it is still a carbohydrate that your body has to break down.

Sugar cane juice is one of my favorites here in Egypt. I wrote about it once.

The point isn't that I HAVE TO give up anything. It is that I want to my mindful in my consuming and make conscious choices. Do I want sugar cane juice sometimes? YES! Everyday? Not possible.

Anything you'd like to add?

Best wishes to you and your family!

Thankful Slave said...

W/Salaam Sister Yosra, and thanks for the reply. Our industry has been going through very challenging times, so the past 2 years were very tense indeed, but al HamdulilAllah for all. I might write an entry once the crisis dissipates.
About the sugar, I have looked at it in the past, and I do agree with the entry you've posted. I think just additional information would be great to obtain, about how does sugar interact with the body. We need sugar for the brain etc, and I agree we must decrease from our sugar intake, but if we deprive the body from it, then what are the consequences too.
One more info needed is about Honey. Could this be the perfect replacement for the sugar? At least, we know it is far less dangerous than all the sweeteners that are out there in the market,

Thanks, and may Allah Bless you and all your family :)


Anonymous said...

Assalamu Alaikum sister YUSRA (I think there is no "YO" or "O" pronunciation in Arabic) and sister Thankful slave...Thank you for exchange of positive thoughts.

Yosra said...

Wa Alaykom Asalam MAK,

Thanks for sharing some goodness.

As for my name: my Arabic will never be THAT good. However, there really isn't ANY vowel indicated between the YA sound and the SEEN sound. That means that it's up to interpretation when it gets transliterated into English characters. Some have a "u" which native speakers tell me is a bit off. Some have "ou" which seems like an overkill. I like the simplicity of "o". If it's a bit off, then so much the better for a Muslim who never quite gets it right and is often criticized for being less than what she SHOULD be.

I've had the name since February, 2003. It's my legal name (on all my certificates and passport). It fits me just fine. I'd prefer it if others just accepted it. If you don't, then I think it says more about you than about me.

Again, goodness makes the world go 'round. Negation just grinds it to a standstill stop while the others stand around and wonder what to say that doesn't sound too snarky.

I wish you love----please share some with others.

I wish you light---seems like you need to lighten up.

Anonymous said...

Sugar is sugar whether it is in honey, unrefined sugar cane juice, table sugar or corn syrup. For the most part all the different kinds of sugars work the same way in our body. I had gestational diabetes twice and have moderated my intake since then. Yes, you are so right, we need to calculate the actual serving size more carefully. Hope you are still doing well with the sugar intake. If I know that you can do it, so can I. Continue to inspire me.

Deanna Troi

Anonymous said...

As salaamu alaikum Yosra!

Subhanallah... I've officially read through the entire blog! Ten years! What a sweet note to end it on, although I seriously hope that you continue writing.

I can only imagine the demand of trying to regularly post, but inshaAllah something new every now and again will appear! Your blog indeed has been very helpful, especially the earlier entries mashaAllah. May we cantinue to benefit from your musings, ameen!

And as an aside... Arabic words transliterated into English will always be flawed, and without consensus. There isn't a complete match up of sounds. I've noticed this even with seemingly similar sounds, such as the raa and laam. I've noticed that the ending "laam" in my little Amal's name doesn't stand out as much to native English speakers and they often confuse it for "Amman". Same for my Suhail ... which I supposed could even be spelled Sohail, like the names Mohammed, Yosra, Mokhtar, Sohaib, etc. Never mind the Egyptians prefer " El" as in Elkazaz instead of "Al". Never mind, dhuhr/thuhr/zuhr or zabiha, Nur/Noor etc. We do the best we can, but when it comes to names, I think we greatly aught to respect the personal preference of the name bearer!

Halimah :)

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Deanna,

I agree that all sweeteners in our life need examining. For me, as a Muslim, it really hit me how there wasn't table sugar in the life of the Prophet (pbuh), but there was honey. We weren't told how to consume sugar, but we do know that honey was actually recommended. That means something more to me than a lot of other advice. Also, I am a firm believer in more natural means closer to God and better for us.

It's the time in Egypt right now for Mawlid Al Nabi, or the innovation of celebrating the Prophet's birthday (pbuh). There are sweets galore! However, when I taste them, I don't feel they're overly sweet like usual. It's only a hint of sweetness---since there really is a sugar shortage in this country.

The fact that I began re-examining the issues surrounding sugar AND at the same time, the country runs out of it, is pretty amazing.

Love and Light!

Yosra said...

Wa Alaykom Asalam Halimah!

You get the special prize: you made it through the years! Congratulations and thank you for being a part of my life---even after many years.

I made it through those years too. SUBHANALLAH! I just marked ten years since my son's father left us that wintry November to fly back to his ex and their children. I don't dwell on it as much, but the decade demarcation hit me more than usual.

I am Yosra. Yep. That spelling. Those letters. That person. I do claim that identity. I've worked hard to embody who that is in this world. Thanks for understanding some of what it has been like to be me.

Take the good.

Leave the bad.

Go in peace.

Love and Light!

Anonymous said...

Assalaamu A'lai KOM (KUM).
I totally agree with you and sister Halima.
When I was learning Arabic in masjid, our ustaz (Ustad) was very harsh on wrong pronunciation.
He was explaining about changes of meaning if we pronounce it wrongly

Kelb ( kalb ) means (=) DOG
Qelb or Qalb means (=) Heart. where K or Q in Qalb must be pronounced through throat to get the meaning of "the heart".

Due to harsh punishment, sometimes I / we were absent to Arabic studies on those days.But we used to get more punishment in the house from our father for being absent to Arabic classes.
When I read your name as YOSRA, those childhood punishment always come back to my mind.Hope you will forgive me for my YUSRA instead of YOSRA.

As I said above, I have great respect for both of you ( Sister Halima and you)
Sorry for hurting your feelings and for my bad English.