January 1, 2015. 16 Days Later…

 

Hi everyone,
so today, I was supposed to post the next part of my Paris/Nutrition series, however, I will instead dedicate this post to the recent tragedy of Peshawar, Pakistan. This blog is normally devoted to health/food/nutrition (aka topics of happiness and comfort), but this is too pertinent of a subject for me not to talk about. As a warning, this is a very heavy topic but I hope that you will all read this with an open mind and an open heart. I may not have much knowledge about or expertise regarding this horrible event, but I would hope that all of us, as human beings, may be able to understand, relate to, and learn from this information.

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It is now the start of a new year.

The past one has been a very difficult one, indeed. The world has been afflicted with many calamities, most of which may be attributable to the hatred and indifference begotten from ignorance and unawareness; whether it be from the unjust deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown or the ongoing genocides occurring in Gaza, Palestine or the ones in Myanmar or the Central African Republic, there is a lot that this world needs to learn about, from the tragedies of 2014.
I do, however, want to focus on one that occurred not too long ago, a tragedy that I have been struggling to understand for a while now.

So, as the world may or may not know, on the morning of Tuesday, December 16th, the Taliban, armed with rifles and detonated explosives, brutally massacred more than 140 people in the Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan, at least 132 of the victims were children. Most of these individuals were congregated in the main hall for a lecture/talk when the Taliban broke into the school and began shooting and bombing right away. There are photographs and videos depicting the remnants of this horrific event; pools of blood on the ground, tiny shoes with bloodstains spattered all around the hallways, classrooms that show signs of struggle and defeat…

What reason can be used to speak for this heinous act??

No, the reason cannot be spoken for by religion, at all. There are no rational teachings, no acceptable way-of-life, no religion that would ever allow for this to occur.

No, the reason is not anti-education. Those children and their brave teachers who stood as shields to protect their students were not brutally murdered, simply for “going to school”. Nor is Malala Yousafzai’s survival and worldly impact a target for this.

Perhaps there is no reason to give at all.

I am not writing this to explain the etiology of this massacre (I do not have enough knowledge to be able to do so, anyways).

I am not writing this to give my condolences (because the victims and their families do not want nor need my sympathy).

I am writing this simply because it hurts.

As a Pakistani, this hurts me because my people are broken. The spirit of Pakistan has been crushed; the most innocent of human beings have been brutally and wrongfully taken away from this world. Their families and communities are now left to bear the heavy burden of this grief for the rest of their lives. Both, Pakistan and the world have lost an entire generation of benevolent leaders, motivators, and thinkers. The world is at a loss.

As an older sister to an 8-year old, this pains me because those mothers/sisters/grandmothers will never be able to hug and kiss and comfort their children ever again. A parent’s ultimate goal in life is to protect his/her children, to ensure that not even a hint of pain touches their little ones. Those parents never once imagined that they would be holding the bloody, lifeless bodies (some horribly and gruesomely murdered) of their little babies.
“Some of the 1,100 students at the school were lined up and slaughtered with shots to the head. Others were gunned down as they cowered under their desks, or forced to watch as their teachers were riddled with bullets.” (Source).
How do mothers feel to as they read this statement? How do those mothers in Peshawar feel to actually be living this statement? We could never imagine. Though it’s no fault of the parents, they will forever be drowning in their own regret, wishing that they hadn’t sent their children to school that day, that they could intercede during the event, wishing that they could take the bullets, in place of their children….

As a human being, this tears at my heart, because there is not enough room in there to bear the pain of this reality.

I fail to grasp, how can a fellow human life, especially of the most innocent of beings, be so wrongfully taken away? How can someone look directly into the fearful eyes of a little one and then shoot him, straight to the head? No human being could have committed this. No animal, either. Animals, at the very least, kill for the purpose of self-defense or to satiate their hunger. This could only be at the hands of monsters, creatures without an ounce of reason, sense, or humanity.

Children, killed in the midst of their classrooms, previously absorbing information, learning, contributing, will never be able to do so again. Over a hundred futures, ended. Over a hundred dreams, destroyed. An entire generation of bright, benevolent contributors, taken away from this world. After a monstrosity such as this, it becomes so easy to view the world in such a negative, hopeless light.

But perhaps it takes the most evil of acts to initiate change.

So what can we do about this?

We need to, first of all, understand that Islam is not at fault for this atrocity. No religion is. However, the sad truth is, over 140 children and their teachers were killed by terrorists in Pakistan and yet, the world remained silent. At the same time, Israeli terrorists are committing genocide in Gaza, Palestine, the world says nothing, yet again. Why has there been so much silence, especially in the western world? Why aren’t we willing to talk about this? These lives are no less important than those involved in the similarly horrifying Sandy Hook and Columbine massacres, so do the Pakistani lives not deserve the same respect and honor as the American ones?
It seems that history is repeating itself. During the Holocaust, global media stayed quiet throughout the mass killings by Germany. Even though the tragedies going on now in Pakistan, Palestine, Syria, and elsewhere should not be about religion, and instead about compassion and humanity, the media’s misconstrued depiction of Islam has led the world to feel utter disdain and disinterest to the sufferings in Muslim countries. Too many lives are being perished to allow for this depiction to continue. Education, thus, is the necessary tool for unity and change.

Islam is being horribly misconstrued. Both, by the media and by uneducated Muslims, who have never read the Quran nor have understood a single Hadith (these are the only two sources of Islamic teachings for Muslims). Ironically, both of these sources are being used to justify the deluded actions/desires of so-called religious groups. Just like the Pakistani Taliban, who committed the heinous acts, most of these terrorists are simply young, uneducated individuals who are brainwashed and promised of ‘paradise’ by manipulative, evil figures with personal/economical/social agendas.

But it takes a little bit of research into Islam to find out that the actions of these terrorists and the depictions portrayed by the media, do not match the tenets of Islam.

Let’s begin with terms.

The root word of Islam itself means peace. The true essence of Islam is simply about the direct relationship that a person has with their Creator; submitting to the will of Allah (Islamic term for God), while understanding that the one God is the most Compassionate, the most Forgiving, the most High.
The duties of a Muslim include being a good human being, one who is merciful, kind, and respectful to all: to animals, children, adults, elders, Muslims, and non-Muslims. It is required of every Muslim to treat non-Muslims with gentleness and compassion, and to never belittle the beliefs of another nor the deities that they worship.
Islam, the religion, has nothing to do with the people that use it to justify their own motives, whether psycho-cultural, political, economical. Those people, the religious fanatics, should be referred to as Extremists, not Muslim Extremists. And as Terrorists, not Islamic Terrorists. These terms, otherwise are oxymorons and should not be used synonymously.

Thus, in summary, in a faith where even animals deserve the best of treatment, how could the slaughter of people be a justifiable creed of Islam? In a religion where women are regarded as queens, how could the wrongful treatment of women be a tenet of this religion? A belief system, that was originally spread far and wide through compassion, morality, fairness, and choice, why then are the savage terrorists, who force their way of life upon others, associated with this same religion?

This seems to be basic knowledge that everyone should understand by now, as there are millions of Muslims living in America. But as mirrors of this kind and beautiful faith, what are we doing to change the perspective that the world has upon Islam and for those suffering all over the globe? With our many voices, why do we remain quiet? As Muslims in America, we have more power, freedom, and influence than most Muslims around the world. We have the liberty to practice our religion freely, we have the education and perspicacity to expose and correct the errors of the global media while placing our own voices into the public sphere.

Despite these powerful tools, Muslim Americans stay silent. Perhaps, we too become so absorbed in our own lives to attempt to do anything about this. Perhaps, Islamophobia inhibits us due to the possible discrimination and hatred that we might face for speaking up.

But isn’t it our duty as Muslims to bring about truth, peace, and to help those suffering in this world?
And is it not our duty as Patriotic Americans to stand up for justice and strive for equality?

We must overcome our own barriers, and most of all, us Muslims must learn to practice Islam in it’s true sense, simply by being the most giving of neighbors, the most trustworthy of co-workers, the most compassionate of friends, and the most benevolent of humanity.

Perhaps, then, will Muslims be regarded as fellow Americans. Perhaps, then, will the plights of those suffering in Muslim countries be more relevant to us all. And perhaps, if we all work together in harmony, the governments and economies of Islamic countries will one day change for the better and the young, uneducated civilians won’t have to find solace in ruthless fanatics as their educators and role models.

These are just a few words of an individual, who is, not trying to make sense of this world, (because this world is not meant to be understood) but rather, attempting to find some sort of comfort in knowing that there will be justice for the wrongs of this world and that unity, compassion, and love can be found amongst even the most different of people. Perhaps an applicable resolution for us all would be to try to understand, educate, and learn from each other; a small, albeit powerful step into creating a more humane, peaceful, and secure world.

With all of this being said….

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope and pray that this year brings happiness, peace, and prosperity to us all.

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Parce Que, Je Suis une Blogueuse de Nutrition

Hello, everyone!
So a few updates:
I have recently begun my Master of Science program in Human Nutrition at a graduate school in South Carolina. Thus, I’ve been busy and, at times, overwhelmed by the course load, though I am really enjoying my courses in nutrition and dietetics. For example, I cannot express my excitement enough over being able to study the molecular structures and metabolic pathways of photosynthetic pigments (such as carotenoids and anthocyanins) and then getting to discuss and debate over their potent (in my opinion) roles in promoting health and preventing/controlling disease.With classes like Food Composition, Human Nutrition, Orientation to Dietetics and various laboratory courses, I am strengthening my problem-solving and critical-thinking abilities, studying the biochemical nature and interactions of macro and micronutrients, and gaining an educational experience centered on nutritional therapeutics, health, and wellness. Thus, I am one step closer to becoming a registered dietitian!
Another update (and the inspiration for the title of this blog post) is that recently, I had the good fortune to shadow a prominent nutritionist in Paris, France. Charlotte Debeugny, is a board-certified nutritionist and a published author and blogger with the website “Nutrition in Paris”, where she advices on the latest research findings related to health, nutrition, and wellness while also posting her musings on current foodie trends and diets (website found here). Charlotte studied Nutrition at the British College of Nutrition and Health and graduated in 2011 and now lives and practices in France.
I had actually come upon her blog while researching nutrition and dietetic programs in Paris, France (don’t ask) and was greatly impressed by her blog posts, research findings, and her publications (she most recently co-wrote and published ‘Le Régime 5/2 à la Française’, her book on intermittent fasting). I decided to send her an email, informing her that I would be in Paris for a short time period and if she would be interested in allowing me to shadow her during that time. I did not expect an answer from such an eminent authority on nutrition and diet in France and in the UK so I was shocked and pleasantly surprised, as you may expect, that she responded right away and was more than willing to allow me to observe and shadow her in a private practice/consulting-based setting
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(Guess I’ll include some pictures, to keep your attention throughout this entire post 😉 )
So finally, that Tuesday morning of September 2nd arrived (I had landed in Paris the previous day). I took the address that Charlotte gave me for the clinic location, found the nearest metro, and navigated myself over to the 17ème arrondissement of Paris. I found the clinic, was buzzed in and guided into the building by the secretary, and then to Charlotte’s office. Charlotte, a tall, stunning lady with a striking demeanor, was also very kind and sweet and made me feel right at home. We quickly jumped into conversation, before her first client of the day came in, and talked about anything and everything related to nutrition and dietetics: the dietitian’s role in medicine, research and study findings related to new food and health trends, disease prevention, the ‘French Diet’, so on and so forth.
For her practice, Charlotte works closely with doctors and other health professionals and provides individualized support and advice for her patients (or in this case, clients) , which I was able to witness firsthand. Sitting in on her consultations was actually one of my first ever real-life experiences in the field of nutrition and dietetics! Charlotte was patient, personable, highly knowledgeable, and thorough in her advising. Her clients (mostly British and a few French) were also friendly, eager for education and advice, and had no problem with me being there, sitting in on the consultations. In fact, they would even ask me for my advice and opinion over many issues!
I gained so much insight from this experience; instead of simply reading about the role and job of a dietitian or watching videos, I was able to observe firsthand for myself that the role of the dietitian most essentially functions as an Educator, Supporter, and Guider; with all of the information out there regarding health and nutrition, the dietitian acts as the ‘navigator’ in processing the right/necessary information and translating it to the layman and guiding their patient/client towards the right direction, suitable for the individual’s lifestyle and physiology. And of course, the key role of a dietitian in the field of medicine is prevention (whereas a physician’s role would be to treat the ailment); by teaching and providing the tools for the patient to make the necessary dietary and lifestyle adjustments to prevent illnesses before they begin.
A very necessary role in the field of medicine, indeed.I learned that a lot of “behind the scenes” work goes into the process, a lot of research and paperwork before and after the consultations and follow-ups on the client (for example, Charlotte keeps track of her client’s daily intake via Nutrilog and MyFitnessPal). It’s very important for the dietetics practitioner to stay updated on new health and nutrition information, to attend conferences and workshops, network with health professionals, play an active role in social media (yet another reason for my blog), and continue to volunteer as much as possible in the community.
So this is just a tiny synopsis of my experience working with Charlotte. On my last day there, I interviewed Charlotte for my blog (which shall be posted soon!), where we discussed her book (and her second one which will be coming out soon), her own experience with Intermittent fasting, new trends in the food and health industry, and much more.
I will also be doing a post regarding the French Diet (yes, that is a thing). After having lived and studied there in the past, I have gathered a few assertions regarding the French lifestyle and eating habits that we (especially Americans) can learn from.
Sooo, be on the lookout for both of these blog posts soon. Now, since I kept your attention for so long, I will leave you with some more pictures of my stay in Paris (plus, I need to empty out pictures from my overly-stuffed iPad…). Enjoy!
The Louvre, morning and night
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Attending Friday prayers at the Grande Mosquée de Paris
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Many a coffee break
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 A day well spent at the Musée d’Orsay
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 Landmarks (Basilique du Sacré-Coeur and Petit Palais in the center photo)
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  Exploring the Musée Jacquemart-André (on my birthday!)
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Dreamy scenes of Paris
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Found a late-night Farmer’s Market!
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Notice that pictures (or a discussion) of food are missing? Very observant 🙂
Well, we’ll just leave all of that for another post, shall we??