We are living in a time wherein nearly everything we eat is genetically or chemically modified and the consequences are becoming apparent in our health. The food industry gives no concern to the long term health of its consumers, and we as consumers do not want to face the reality of the links between poor diet and illnesses; in fact not only do we consume these foods that are deficient in nutrients and are complex in their ingredients (additives, preservatives, artificial flavouring), but we consume them excessively. In these circumstances, it is important for us to cultivate ourselves and children on healthier eating habits.
Now, there are so many theories out there on how to keep healthy etc, but as Muslims we have been provided with the best form of spiritual and physical healing by Allaah subhana- wa-talaa through the Quraan and the Sunnah of our Prophet Mohammed(ﷺ). We have even been directed to what foods are of benefit; foods that provide us with a cure by the will of Allaah, but it is important that we have absolute belief in Allaah azza-wa-ajal and His Messenger. Ibn al Qayyim - may Allaah be pleased with him - says in regards to the prophetic medicine:
“Only those benefit from it who wholeheartedly accept it, they believe firmly in its ability to cure, and perfectly accept it through faith and submission. This Qur’aan which is the cure for what is in the hearts, if it is not accepted with such acceptance, the healing of the hearts will not be attained by its treatments.” (Zaad al-Ma`aad 3/97-98)
So the correct belief in Allaah and His Messenger is essential to the healing that Islaam provides and it is something we must first rectify. Changing Our Eating Habits One of the ways that we can start to eat healthily is to change our eating habits. We need to have a different approach when it comes to eating our food. It has become normal to eat our food until we become so full that buttons need to be undone and we can no longer rise from the table. This is one of the main causes of illnesses. SubhanAllaah, let us look at the hadeeth of the Prophet Mohammed (ﷺ) wherein he (ﷺ) says:
"Sufficient for the son of Aadam are so many morsels as will keep his spine upright. But if he must eat more, then he should take a third for his food, a third for his drink and a third for his breath."
(Tirmidhee, Zuhd, 47; Ibn Maajah, At'imah, 50.)
How many of us actually apply this when we sit for food. We have no control of what we put in our bellies. If we cannot control simple matters such as eating our food, then how can we control matters that are even more detrimental to our body and our souls, such as our lust and desires that oppose the laws of Allaah.
Ibn al-Qayyim (died 752H - around 700 years ago!) in his commentary of the above hadeeth stated:
"Illnesses are of two types. Material illnesses arise from an increase in matter which comes to a point of excess in the body where it harms its natural functions, and these are the most common illnesses. They are caused by consuming more food before the previous meal has been digested; by eating in excess of the amount needed by the body; by taking in food which is of little nutritional value and slow to digest; and by indulging in different foods which are complex in their composition..."
("Medicine of the Prophet", Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, Islamic Texts Society, p.13 - Arabic title: "At-Tibb an-Nabawee")
The scary reality is that many of us fall into all four of the above mentioned causes.
Ibn al-Qayyim continues:
"When a human being fills his belly with these foods and it becomes a habit, they cause him various diseases, some of which come to an end slowly, some swiftly. When he is moderate in his eating and takes only so much of it as he needs, keeping a balance of quantity and quality, the body benefits more from this than it does from a large amount of food." (ibid.)
So you see it is important that we eat just enough to provide us with the energy and nutrients for our bodies (notice how bloated and lethargic we get once we over eat! What is the point in that?) And the foods that we eat should be foods that are nutritious and beneficial to our health.
The Recommended foods of the Prophet (ﷺ)
Like everything else within our lifestyles, Allaah - the Most High - has guided the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) to eat in the most pleasing way to Allaah and also what is ultimately the most wholesome way of eating for ourselves and our society. So it is important that we look to those foods and implement them into our diets. A good place to start is to read the books of the scholars that have compiled this information for you. I highly recommend the book by Ibn al Qayyim, 'Healing with the Prophetic Medicine.' And here is a video below that is an eye opener to how looking after our health is a part of our worship and getting nearer too Allaah.