What better example is there to follow than that of our own Prophet ﷺ and his Sunnah? He had the right, balanced approach to food and nutrition. The following is an excerpt from Al Madina Institute, regarding the Prophetic Diet.
The way most of us approach food and its consumption is fundamentally flawed. We eat for sport, not survival. When we are bored, we eat. When we see food, we eat. When we watch Food Network, we eat. It is very rare we eat when we are hungry and when we do eat, we overeat.
So what is the correct way of approaching food consumption? One Prophetic answer to this is fasting.
Fasting was a regular part of the Messenger’s life. He would fast every Monday and Thursday. He would also fast the 13th, 14th and 15th of each month. Once you add them up you get eleven days, or roughly one-third of the month in which the Messenger would fast.
When the Messenger was not fasting, he was ‘intermittently fasting‘, eating only once a day. If he ate in the morning, he would not eat again until the next morning. If he ate at night, he would not eat until the next night. [MK: It seems he was the earliest proponent of the Warrior Diet.]
He once stated, “A believer eats with one stomach while a nonbeliever eats with seven stomachs.” The profound import of this Prophetic statement points to the importance of rooting even our food consumption in faith and the Sacred. It is interesting to note that even ascetics of other religions (such as Buddhist monks) eat one meal a day. This prophetic advice of fasting and intermittent fasting has even recently been championed by some contemporary fitness gurus today.
Now we are all aware of some of the great spiritual rewards of fasting, but I want to share with you and emphasize some of the physical results of regular fasting as well. Many Muslims do not realize that when the Qur’an states that the purpose of fasting is to increase taqwa (God-Awareness), this “taqwa” attained through fasting should also manifest itself on a physical level. These physical results of fasting may have some of the following benefits :
- Reduce blood pressure
- Reduce risk of developing cancer
- Decrease oxidative stress
- Protect against degenerative brain diseases
- Increase fat burning
- Improve blood sugar control and appetite control
- Increase sense of well-being
The Messenger and Food Quality
The Prophet of Allah ﷺ was a careful and healthy eater. His diet was simple, but packed with nutrients. Among the food he would regularly eat:
- Barley Bread
- Olive oil
- Meat (on occasion)
It is important to note that the Messenger’s diet did not center on meat. It is well known in the modern context as well as through most of the world’s wisdom-traditions that excessive consumption of meat can lead to serious physical and spiritual ailments.
There is currently a push in America to make every Monday “Meatless”, and this is something that should go global. The proponents of this initiative cite evidence that keeping your red meat consumption at bay can limit your cancer risk, reduce heart disease, fight diabetes and curb obesity. You can check it out for yourself here.
The following video by Sheikh Hamza Yusuf touches on how our meat consumption should be cut back for our own wellbeing, the benefits of fasting, eating good food for nutrition and scaling back how much we eat.
As always, we welcome any feedback, comments or questions you may have below.