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Ramadan Reflection: Part 3–Eating less

Written By: Ajmal-Masroor
13/07/2013 20:55
Religion & Culture

Abstaining from eating and drinking essentially defines fasting. However, it is not uncommon to see Muslims eating too much in the month of Ramadan. Instead of reducing their food intake, they binge eat throughout the night. Imagine the amount and frequency of the food in one night consumed by some people. It starts with Iftar usually consisting of variety of fried and oily food followed by a big spicy, meaty and greasy meal. Many continue snacking throughout the waking hours until it is time for Suhur. Some people would eat a full meal again! In a matter of 5 hours excessive amount of food would have been consumed and the consequence is disastrous both on people’s physical and spiritual health.

The blessed Prophet of Allah said, “The human beings do not fill any container that is worse than his/her stomach. It is sufficient for the children of Adam to eat what will help to keep his/her back straight. If this is not possible, then let them fill a third with food, a third with drink, and a keep third empty for air to breathe.”

Eating is immensely pleasurable. Every culture uses it as the main point of convergence. People spend an enormous amount of time planning their meals, shopping for it, preparing it, serving it and then consuming it. While food is essential for our survival, it is also the main cause of much pain and suffering. More than seventy percent of illnesses have been attributed to bad died and harmful food.

The spirit of Ramadan is all about learning how to manage food that heals our physical body, improves our capacity to enjoy our spiritual state and most importantly generates sharing and caring culture between all creatures. If fasting in the month of Ramadan is a tool to make our journey to heaven easy, eating less is the door to that journey.

In the 21st century world obesity is one of the biggest killers. The over eating, over indulgent and extremely gluttonous people of the world are killing themselves at a higher rate than those die due to smoking. Though smoking is a terrible habit and causes untold damage. These hazardous habits are found all over the world, from USA (United States of American) to KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) the peril of overweightness have caused much strain to the health services and food supplies in the world.

Disproportionate food intake and resource consumption have had a knock on effect on the rest of the world’s population. I see a direct link between obesity and poverty; logically one follows the other. I am not making a medical link but I am suggesting the sociological link between the two. No one should die of hunger anywhere in the world especially since we have so much richness at our disposal today. Technologies enable us to reach further and faster. The oil wealth alone could eradicate hunger in the world instantly but the oil producing nations are probably the biggest culprits in over consumption and food wastage.

Fasting in the month of Ramadan teaches us the link between our food and hunger. Consciously abstaining from eating for the prescribed hours not only makes us appreciate what we eat but gives us a first hand experience of the pain of hunger. “You are not a believer if you sleep with your stomach full while your neighbour sleeps hungry”, firmly warned the blessed Prophet of God. Yet in our own neighbourhood hundreds of people stay hungry on a daily. No one even knows about his or her pain. This is the opposite to the sharing and caring feature of Ramadan.

The purpose of staying hungry throughout the entire month of Ramadan is for us to learn to share the pain of hunger suffered by millions of people in the world. Yet when you read the accounts of Muslims eating and wasting too much food especially in the month of Ramadan it makes me feel sick to the core and it mocks the spirit of fasting. For God reminds us in the Quran, “eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for God does not love the wasters” (7:31).

I have noticed in my travel that many restaurants in the Gulf States put on a mega feast for iftar during Ramadan. They demonstrate total contempt to the teaching of God and directly contradict the essence of fasting. They make available with a promotional tag “eat as much as you like for a fixed price” enticing customers to gluttony. I have counted up to forty different dishes served at Iftar. The staff at the restaurant told me that more than sixty percent of the cooked meals end up in the dustbin. It is a disgrace that this waste is allowed while a child dies out of hunger or thirst every twenty seconds in the developing world.

Fasting is the antithesis to obesity and gluttony. Defeating the culture of feeding the animal cravings lies at the heart of fasting. Imagine a major shift in the attitude of humanity that they eat only the amount they need and in moderation, and they share their food and wealth with the less fortunate and needy of the world. The world would be more peaceful place and certainly a lot of war over resources would come to an end.

A few practical tips to eating less:

1. Change your belief: It starts with the erroneous belief that unless you eat a lot of food you would die. You do not need to eat full stomach to be alive. The idea that only when you feel the pressure on your stomach wall that you have actually eaten enough is another mistaken belief. With food the golden rule is less is more.

2. Train your body to eat less: A full stomach is heavy on the body and soul. It makes you sluggish and sleepy. Next time you sit down to eat, mentally draw a map of your stomach, and divide it into three equal parts. Filling only one third of your stomach with solid food is extremely beneficial. If you carry on this practice your stomach size would dramatically reduce. You should have lost weight in the month of Ramadan. You would feel healthier and your GP would be proud.

3. Eat beneficial food: Greens, vegetables, fruits and pulses should be the main ingredients of your daily diet and more so in the month of Ramadan. One of the reasons why children do not like to eat their greens is that their parents usually do not eat greens. Children usually mimic their parents and adults around. Their lifestyle is adversely affected because of the parental bad habits. Take a moment and think of the consequence of eating harmful food.

4. Reduce meat intake: Red meat is harder to digest and cause of many illnesses. Many households have a heavy dependency on heavy meat based diet that is supplemented by excessive amount of rice, bread or pasta. Try to reduce this dependency, have red meat once a week if you must, chicken and fish more often and make a drastic cut to rice, bread and pasta. A healthy diet will help you feel better and enjoy the fast.

5. Keep Fried, fatty and spicy food at bay: Many people love a deep-fried samosas, oil drenched kibba, spicy kebabs and chilli biryani. Unfortunately, our stomach hates such food and our body cries out for an opportunity to detox. In Ramadan eating less of these items means we give our body a better chance to regenerate from the months of damage. You do not need to wait until your doctor has diagnosed diabetes, high cholesterol and blocked artery.

6. Stay away from excessive and refined sugar products: Dates and fruits have good quantities of natural sugar that is brilliant for our body and natural energy. However, refined sugar is terribly harmful for our body and more so for a food and drinks deprived body. You may get a quick burst of sugar rush but what follows is a quick dip in energy and tiredness. We all love chocolate and our traditional sweets. Having a small amount for special occasion may not be that harmful but having it everyday after every Iftar is a sure recipe for health disaster.

If Ramadan is about realigning us to God and strengthening our spirituality, over indulgence is definitely a step in the wrong direction. If fasting helps us retune our connection with God, over eating disconnects our relationship with God. Use the golden opportunity and the immense blessings of Ramadan to take control of your desire to eat more and excessively. After a month of proper fasting your will to constantly consume would have substantially subsided and your body would have become more accustomed to eating less. Learn to manage your dietary habits more consciously and adapt it to your newfound liberation from food addictions. In that process you will elevate yourself to a human and not just serve your animal instincts.

In conclusion, at Iftar I love dates, fruit, milk and yoghurt as they are the most healing and comfortable food during Ramadan. I find myself able to focus and concentrate on my worship and work more. For Suhur I like eating food that has slow energy release properties and feels healthier to my digestive system. I feel strong and able to maintain a good level of energy throughout the day. The last thing I want is feel bloated, sluggish or indigestion discomfort.

The secret to a healthy and fulfilling fast is to eat less and small amounts of quality food. If you wish to receive God’s mercy, grace and forgiveness, have respect for the food he gives you. If you want to develop true God consciousness then do not be enslaved by your stomach. Ramadan is all about enduring hunger to appreciate food and ending hunger to establish equality and fairness in the world. Gaining balance between the two is the quintessential characteristics of a good and devout Muslim.

May God help us to eat less!

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About Ajmal-Masroor

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  • Name: Ajmal Masroor
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    Ajmal Masroor is an Author, Broadcaster, Relationship Counsellor , Politician and Imam based in London, UK. His facebook profile can be followed

    This Blog is made by his Fan and all writings are collected from his Facebook page which is Public.


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