Written by: Dua
This is Part II of the Mindful Eating Series – A Prophetic Example. Part I can be accessed here: “The Mindful Eating Series: Eating with Ihsan”
As Muslims, it is often easier for us to focus on our own health and well-being when we consider it from a religious perspective. It provides us with an added boost of motivation to try a little harder. Although mindful eating as a philosophy does not stem from Islam itself, it goes hand in hand with the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (s). As you review hadith literature, you find that it all leads to an increased awareness and appreciation for food, drink, and the eating process itself.
The easiest way for us to increase our mindfulness is to slow down. We live in such a go-go-go world where productivity defines our worth, so we learn to multitask with everything, including our eating. We eat while we work, while we watch TV, while we cook, while we drive. We rarely sit down just to eat because we want to do so much more. Even though it may feel counter-intuitive, this actually has a negative effect on our productivity. Breaks are necessary to refresh our brains! Pausing to just eat is beneficial not only for our health but also our productivity, so it is a win-win.
We learn from the example of the Prophet Muhammad (s) that we can be more present even in the way we drink. How do we do this?
By slowing down.
There are two primary hadiths about this:
- The messenger (s) said, “I do not eat reclining [against a pillow]” (Bukhari). And in a separate narration, Anas (ra) said the Prophet (s) reprimanded us from drinking while standing (Muslim).
- The Prophet Muhammad (s) said: “Do not drink in one gulp like a camel, but in two or three [sips]. Mention the Name of God (i.e., say bismillah) when you start drinking and praise Him (i.e., say alhamdulillah) after you have finished [drinking]” (Tirmidhi). In another narration, Anas (ra) reported that the Prophet (s) said that taking breaths in between sips is “more thirst-quenching, healthier, and more wholesome” (Muslim).
By following the guidelines in the above hadiths, we can slowly increase our mindfulness, and at the same time try to practice ihsan [excellence] even in our drinking. These are simple tips, but they will take effort for us to establish these habits. Once we do, we will automatically be more mindful than we were before.
I encourage you to challenge yourself this week by:
- Always sitting down to drink (even if just water)
- Saying bismillah before and alhamdulilah after
- And very importantly, slowing down! Do not drink in gulps but rather in sips. Allow yourself to breathe between sips. This is better for water absorption and hydration status as well as improving our mindfulness and presence.
Watch the Mindful Eating Series on Dua the Dietitian’s Youtube channel to learn more about Mindful Eating and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (s). You can also read the entire series, visit Dua the Dietitian’s blog, and follow her on Instagram or Facebook.
Dua Aldasouqi is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Health Coach, and the founder of Dua the Dietitian. She has been practicing since 2010 and genuinely believes that our relationship with food should not be complicated. She is also a student at Qalam Institute and loves combining the traditional teachings of Islam with modern day nutrition guidance. You can reach her on her website, Dua the Dietitian, or on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Tumblr.