Mindful eating is nothing new, but in reality, it is so difficult to practice, especially at iftar time during Ramadan, as Ramadan approaches it’s important to begin to develop and refine good habits. We are obviously incredibly famished, thirsty and utterly excited as the sun sets, so we stack our plates with food that oftentimes we are unable to finish. We are often left feeling bloated, languid and lazy. This is all because we are eating unconsciously. It is easy to voraciously indulge in our favourite foods after almost 18 hours of abstention, done solely for the pleasure of Allah. But eating consciously is an extension of gratitude for the food and the Rizq that He has provided us with. We are infinitely blessed knowing that at exactly 8.42pm, we will have more than enough food available to satiate our hunger. Many people don’t. Our blessings are so immeasurable, that we even get to have cravings and choose exactly what we want to eat, and have an assortment of delicacies ready and waiting. Again, many don’t.
Eating mindfully simply means to be fully present with what we eat and how we eat. It is to deliberately focus our attention towards the aromas, textures, tastes, colours and even sound of our food, and to be completely aware of how each bite is making us feel. We are all too familiar with the sensation of the first few sips cool water, that rushes through our parched bodies upon breaking the fast, and the sweet, luxurious density of a date.
The Prophet ﷺ said: ‘…there are two pleasures for a fasting person, one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other at the time when he will meet his Lord.’
Ramadan is a month in which our awareness of food and everything related to it (gluttony, comfort, pleasure, hunger, craving) is heightened. The conditions are that the food is halal, nutritious, wholesome and tayyib. However, the blessing of sustenance is not just the food itself, but also the acts outside of it and the observation of manners, which have metaphysical consequences, i.e. tangible blessings in this life and the Hereafter. Our partaking in a meal is rewardable when our attitude and intention towards it is pleasing to God. And so we must be mindful that God sees us when we indulge in His provision. Being conscious of this earns us His pleasure – what more could we want this Ramadan?
I believe that mindfulness with eating begins before we actually even start to eat. It begins with the foods we purchase, how we prepare and where our thoughts wander while we eat. Mindful eating helps to lessen food waste and prevent common ailments such as poor digestion and bloating.
The underlying motive to eat is to strengthen our bodies for our worship of God, so here are steps towards eating with a mindful and conscious heart:
The Sunnah of what we eat, the amount we eat and how we eat should be essential to our daily lives, and not just Ramadan. Let’s begin this practice today, Insha Allah!