Jul 12, 2013

Decreasing Over Indulgence in Ramadan

By Arty 


O children of Adam, take your adornment at every masjid, and eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess. (Surah al Araf, 7:31) 

Allah subhannahu wa ta’ala forbids us  to eat and drink with excess at all times. Yet, that’s exactly what we do in the holy month of Ramadan, a month in which we should try to tame our physical desires and, instead, stimulate our spiritual appetite. In Ramadan, we should leave behind, as much as possible of this world to connect more with the hereafter. It’s the month of long prayers, more readings of the Qur’an, reduced speech, food, drink, and sexual intimacy. I once heard a local imam say “If you stimulate your desire for food, it will stimulate your desire for wealth and sexual intimacy.” Thus, overeating and drinking at night are counterproductive to our month of spiritual retreat.

Because Ramadan is the month for spiritual food, let’sprepare ourselves physically and spiritually by gradually changing our ways so that we can better avoid gluttony and overindulgence of food and drink.

Here are some practical suggestions to help us eat and drink less during Ramadan, inshaAllah:

1. Gradually reduce your meal portions:
If we want to eat less in Ramadan, we have to start eating less before Ramadan. There’s a popular saying which states that it takes twenty one days to make a habit, well we have a little over two months so let’s make a conscious effort to reduce the size of our meals.

Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salaam told us exactly what to do to make sure we don’t eat and drink excessively. Every time we eat, we ought to make sure that we do not exceed, a third for our drink, a third for our food, and a third for air.

"A human does not fill any container worse than his stomach. It is enough for a human to have some morsels to strengthen his back (keep his back straight). If he must eat more, then it should be one-third of his stomach for food, one-third for drink and one-third for breathing." (1)

The best way to implement this sunnah is to eat on smaller plates. Try to use saucer plates and start with one meal, preferably dinner. Eat your dinner on a saucer plate. If you really must have a second serving at first, go ahead but not more than two servings. Gradually, your body will get used to the smaller portion and you will not go for a second serving. Once you’ve eaten your dinners that way for a whole month, you can then move on to eating your lunch on saucer plates as well insha’Allah.

2. Practice Sunnah Fast
Try to do the sunnah fasts i.e. fasting on Mondays and Thursdays or the three white days of the hijri month. Get your body used to fasting regularly in these next two months so that when Ramadan comes, your body will not go into panic mode leading you to overeat at night. Insha’Allah, your body would have already been used to fasting and to eating smaller portions by then.

3. Avoid attending too many iftar parties
Try to attend maybe one or two iftar parties in the month but no more. Indeed, iftar parties can actually cause more harm than good. There is usually too much food, people are overeating, drinking too much, as well as talking and laughing too much. Very little remembrance of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is done and in the end, we might even miss Taraweeh. I know there is good in maintaining family ties and getting together with other Muslims in the community, but I still say keep it to a minimum; let’s remember that the focus is spiritual food not physical food.

4.Don’t skip sahoor (pre-dawn meal)
Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wa salaam encouraged his ummah to eat the pre-dawn meal when fasting. There is tremendous blessing in it and it will help us start the day with energy.

The Prophet sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam said, “Eat sahoor for in sahoor there is blessing.” (2)

Also at sahoor, choose food which contains more water, fiber, and protein, and avoid food that has more sugar and carbs content. Fiber and protein will make you feel fuller longer. (3)

5. Say Bismillah before eating
`Aishah May Allah be pleased with her reported: Messenger of Allah salallahu alayhi wa salaam was eating with his six Companions when a desert Arab came and ate up the food in two mouthfuls. Messenger of Allah salAllahu aleyhi wasallam said, "Had he mentioned the Name of Allah, it would have sufficed for all of you.''(4)

6. Eat slowly
When we slow down and take time to chew our food properly, we give time for our brain to receive the signals from our digestive system, letting us know that we are indeed full. However, when we eat quickly, we don’t give time for our system to register that we are full and we end up overeating.

‘Scientists have known for some time that a full stomach is only part of what causes someone to feel satisfied after a meal; the brain must also receive a series of signals from digestive hormones secreted by the gastrointestinal tract.’ (5)

These are just some tips on how we can gradually change our eating habits so as to conform to the Qur’an and the Sunnah. May Allah subhannahu wa ta’ala give us the strength and, more importantly, the discipline to eat and drink in a way that is pleasing to Him in and outside of Ramadan. Ameen.

Do you have additional tips on how to eat and drink less? Please share with us so that we may all benefit insha’Allah.

(1) Hadith related by Ahmad
(2) Hadith related by Bukhari
(3) Fullness Factor of foods (NutritionData.com)
(4) Hadith related by At-Tirmidhi.
(5) H http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/why-eating-slowly-may-help-you-feel-full-faster-20101019605

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below! :)


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