In a country where almost every single food is genetically modified, injected with hormones, grown under artificial conditions and with complete lack of hygiene, it becomes very hard to eat healthy. When you have soda priced higher than water and genetically modified fruits priced lower than organic, how do you expect the average Mohammad/Fatima to eat healthy and sustain his/her body? When you are not given any choice but to eat from the types of food mentioned above, when you cannot pick anything else, your priority should be to put as little of the poison into your body as possible. Let’s take a look at the hadith of the Prophet ﷺ from 1400 years ago, still applicable today:
I heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ saying: ‘The human does not fill any vessel that is worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to eat what will support his back. If this is not possible, then a third for food, a third for drink, and third for his breath.’ [Tirmidhi]
There is so much wisdom and benefit in this prophetic saying. Let’s first analyze this economically. The less food you eat, the less money you spend. The less money you spend on food, the less food farmers make. The less food farmers make, the less they waste. We have a huge surplus of food in this country. So much so, that the surplus is regularly thrown away because it costs more to preserve it. When you have no choice but to make a set amount, your surplus will decrease and you sell more efficiently. How do you look at the majority of the world starving to death and still throw out the food?
Now let’s analyze the health benefits derived from this hadith. When a person overeats, his/her body reacts to the sudden nutrition overload with sleepiness and lethargy. This is commonly referred to as “food coma.” A person is sapped of any energy they had and only wish to sleep. Don’t let this happen to you. When you only fill a third of your stomach, you will never experience food coma. You will actually retain, if not increase your energy level without feeling or showing any signs of lethargy.
Another benefit of not filling your stomach is proper digestion. When your stomach is not full, your stomach has space to move the acids inside. When you overeat however, the stomach has less space to work with, and you get problems like acid reflux, constipation, and incomplete digestion. Although the worst vessel the son of Adam can fill is his stomach, it is not haraam to do so and the Sahaba did this on occasion. The narration is of when Abu Hurayrah was told to give milk to the other Companions and when it was his turn to drink, the Prophet ﷺ told him to drink until he was full and could not drink anymore.
So eat—but eat moderately—because moderation is what the Sunnah is all about.