I know what you’re thinking “2 sunnahs that revolutionized my health – Girl that’s a BIG claim to make!!!” However, being a health – yoga – wellness junkie and life-long exercise freak, I can assure you that these two practices completely revolutionized my health. Way more than I could ever imagine.
Having immersed myself in nutrition and fitness books, documentaries, lectures and blogs, adopting these 2 sunnahs made all the difference. I don’t say that lightly. You could be sipping on green juice all day long, feasting on roasted sweet potatoes, grilled crispy salmon and fresh cucumbers and baby tomatoes, but if you’ve overfed your stomach (even with the good stuff), you’ve defeated the purpose of eating healthy in the first place, haven’t you?
It took me a long time to realise that whilst what we eat is important (pure and halaal), how we eat is equally important. And that is what I learned from following these 2 sunnahs, so lets dive straight in!
1. Eating for 1/3 of your stomach (i.e. don’t overeat)
The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said:
“Nothing is worse than a person who fills his stomach. It should be enough for the son of Adam to have a few bites to satisfy his hunger. If he wishes more, it should be: One-third for his food, one-third for his liquids, and one-third for his breath.” – Tirmidhi & Ibn Majah
This made such a huge difference to my health because even though I was eating healthy, organic, whole foods, cooking my meals from scratch, snacking regularly on raw cacao, chia seed protein balls, I was eating wayyy too much for my body. In fact as embarrassing as it sounds, my portion sizes were huge! Even though my plate was filled up with roasted veggies, raw salads, gluten free grains and healthy fats – it was much more than my body needed. As a result I would often feel tired, bloated and not to mention overly stuffed!
Allah, the Most High says: “O children of Adam, take your adornment to every mosque. Eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He does not like those who commit excess.” [Sûrah al-A`râf: 31]
Avoiding excessiveness and eating moderately for you body’s needs without craving more food or feeling deprived comes down to 2 steps:
1)Listening to your body
2)Eating from a place of abundance
Listening to your body:
As you begin to eat, check in with yourself. Eat slowly and take your sweet time. It takes about 15 – 20 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full. So if you scoff down your meal without properly chewing your food, you don’t give your brain a fighting chance to even register that you’re full.
Eating from a place of abundance:
When something tastes good, we naturally want to eat more of it. Though what if you’ve had a slice of cake (gluten free, made from coconut flour and frosted cacao mousse of course 😉 ) but still want more? For myself, I tackle this in two ways:
1) If I’m really, really craving another bite of raw salted caramel slices or a batch of crispy sweet potatoes – hell yeah I’ll eat it! (bring it on!!) I’ll eat it with no regret or self punishment like ‘I’ll work out extra tomorrow to make up for the cake’ – No way! Instead trust that your body can perfectly deal with occasionally eating too much, be it healthy or not.
2) If I’m not totally craving the food and just wanting to eat a little extra for more pleasure, I reminded myself that I can ALWAYS have it later. The food is not going anywhere. This is part of adopting an abundance mindset. You can always have it later. In fact, save it for when your truly craving that cake because then it tastes better too. Remind yourself that there’s always enough to go around. Even if you don’t eat it right now (because your not hungry), it doesn’t matter because you will have it again very soon.
The moment you deprive yourself of the foods you crave, you begin this mind war – where you’ll eventually binge and stuff your face with food. However, if you follow this method of either ‘eat’ or ‘postpone’, you won’t feel deprived. You’re not restricting yourself from eating more than necessary, instead your simply allowing yourself to eat everything you desire over a period of time versus all at once.
2.Sitting down whilst eating
Anas (may Allah be pleased with Him) reported that Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) forbade that a person should drink while standing. Qatada reported: “We said to him: What about eating?” Thereupon he (Anas – may Allah be pleased with Him) said: “That is even worse and more detestable.” – Muslim
Let me tell you the incident on how I finally embodied this sunnah into my life, despite hearing it many times before from Alimiyyah classes and from several nutritionists/health coaches.
It was quite a busy day, I remember feeling overwhelmed and all over the place. I spent the whole day gazing around, munching on bits of food here and there. Never actually sat down to enjoy a proper meal. Just running in and out of the kitchen, hoovering over the table top and nibbling on food. Opening up the fridge, inhaling a scoop of yoghurt and then shutting the fridge door and continuing with my day. Mind you, despite snacking all day I never felt satisfied.
At night, I FELT the difference. I felt awful. I kept telling myself ‘what am I doing this?’ After that day, I made a concious decision to always sit down and eat my meals. Always. It makes such a difference. In fact, it makes all the difference. This was the last piece to the jigsaw puzzle of radiant health. By adopting this practise, I healed my relationship with my food.
If your unsure about adopting this habit, here are a few benefits of sitting down whilst eating:
-You’re in a relaxed state. As a result, you eat slower (and fewer) and actually take the time to appreciate each bite.
-It’s an act of self respect. Give yourself the dignity of sparing 10 minutes, to cancel other commitments and focus on nourishing your body.
-You prevent mindless snacking, which leads to weight gain and feeling horrid about body.
-You feel satisfied after a meal. You’re less likely to crave sugary treats or savoury snacks because you mind has registered that you’ve eaten and reached satiety.
-Makes you more attuned to your level of hunger and satisfaction. Do you stop eating when your full or when the TV program finishes? Do you only realise that you’ve consumed an entire packet of Walkers crips after the film ends? If yes, then you need to remove all distractions when eating and focus entirely on the plate in front of you.
-It’s an act of self love. This might sound a little cheesy but I really believe that sitting down and honouring your meal is an indirect way of honouring yourself. It’s a way of showing that you appreciate and love your body, so much that you treat it with respect.
By following these two habits on ‘how’ I was eating and not just ‘what’ I was eating, I quickly saw a huge improvement in my health and well-being. It amazes me at how simple yet highly effective these habits are. Now it’s over to you Beautiful – how do you intend on applying these Sunnahs into your life? What Prophetic eating habits are you currently implementing and what effect has it had on your health and well-being?
Share your insights with me and hundreds of other women in the comments below. Your insights are hugely inspirational and beneficial to us all.