Mindful Eating: Islamic Principles on Diet and Nutrition

The universality of Islam extends towards the subject of food and nutrition as well, as evidenced by the detailed descriptions in both the Quran and the Hadith. Indeed, Allah SWT has filled the earth abundantly with His bounties which include an eclectic variety of food that serve to provide sustenance to His Creation. The intricacies of the natural food chain and the diverse ways of consumption of food and drink all serve to remind the believers to contemplate the unmatchable powers of Allah SWT and His miracles and show gratitude towards Him.

The array of colorful fruits and vegetables, the nutrients-packed pulses and grains, the delights that dairy has to offer, and the diverse assortment of meat and poultry can truly overwhelm Man if he endeavors to think about it, such vastly encompassing is Allah’s bounty on Earth. At the same time, as believers, it becomes incumbent upon us to first understand and educate ourselves regarding the laws and rulings Islam has decreed regarding food and drink consumption and then to see what options are best for the optimum health of the body. Only then we can reach an ideal mindful approach towards eating that is approved by Islam.

Islam on Food & Nutrition

Islam is not merely focused on worship and preparing for the Hereafter but also encourages its followers towards living a happy life in this world both mentally and physically. The Quran and the hadith highlight the importance of looking after oneself. In a hadith, the Prophet Muahmmad ﷺ said:

‘Your body has a right over you’ (Al-Bukhari 5199)

This succinct yet deeply meaningful narration sums up the need to keep ourselves in good health. Our bodies are an Amanah (trust) from Allah SWT and health is a blessing, making it imperative upon us to look after ourselves but in a manner that is within the bounds of Islam. Consumption of food and drink in Islamic legal terms can be divided into what is allowed (Halal) and what is forbidden (Haram).
Halal is an Arabic word meaning ‘lawful’ or ‘permissible’. The opposite of halal is haram, which means ‘unlawful’ or ‘forbidden.’ According to Islamic law, ‘all foods are considered halal, or lawful, except for pork and its by-products, animals improperly slaughtered or dead before slaughtering, animals slaughtered in the name of anyone but Allah (God), carnivorous animals, birds of prey, animals without external ears (some birds and reptiles), blood, alcohol, and foods contaminated with any of these.’

The consumption of Halal food is a command from Allah SWT and those items which are Halal are permitted for consuming. This order is reiterated in the Quran several times. Allah Almighty says in the Quran: ‘Eat of what is lawful and wholesome on the earth.’ (2:168)

In general terms, Halal food items include:

  1. All fruits, vegetables and grains, except those that cause intoxication
  2. All beef, poultry, and lamb products slaughtered according to Islamic dietary laws
  3. All vegetable ingredients, except those that may lead to intoxication
  4. Seafood*
  5. Haram (forbidden) foods involve pork, crustaceans, blood, and non-halal animal additives including gelatin or suet, alcohol and any ingredient foods containing alcohol.
  6. The consumption of meat in Islam does require a few prerequisites in order for it be to be considered ‘halal’. Allah SWT says in the Quran:
  7. “So eat of that (meat) upon which Allah’s name has been mentioned, if you are believers in His verses” (Holy Quran 6:118)
  8. “And do not eat that upon which the name of Allah has not been mentioned, for indeed it is a grave disobedience”. (Holy Quran 6:121)
  9. For the animals allowed for consumption, the Islamic Shariah prescribes a specific method for animal slaughter (Zabihah)* which includes reciting Bismillah and Takbir and slaughtering the animal painlessly. Herbivores, cud-chewing animals like cattle, deer, sheep, goats, and antelope are some examples of animals that are halal. Milk and dairy products are also considered halal.
  10. Food items that are haram include alcohol, pork, carrion, the meat of carnivores, and animals that died due to illness, injury, stunning, poisoning, or slaughtering not in the name of Allah.

Apart from laying down rules for the lawfulness of food and drink, Islam has also highlighted certain etiquettes for dining, eating and drinking. The Prophet ﷺ has strongly advised that one should wash his hands before and after a meal.

“The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘Whoever would like Allah to increase the goodness of his house, should perform ablution (wash hands) when his breakfast is brought to him and when it is taken away.’” (Sunan Ibn Majah 3260)
Additionally, Muslims are also advised to recite certain duas before and after a meal to ensure Barakah. Another important guideline for dining and food is to cover food containers before going to sleep at night.

Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, "Extinguish the lamps when you go to bed; close your doors; tie the mouths of your water skins, and cover the food and drinks." I think he added, ". . . even with a stick you place across the container." (Al-Bukhari 5624)

Tips for Healthy and Mindful Eating

While it might seem contradictory to approach eating with focus on health and mindfulness both, it actually can be achieved especially when one keeps in mind that Islam encourages us to pursue healthy eating while savoring the bounties Allah SWT has blessed one with. Mindful eating is the act of thinking about your food, of not being in a rush or distracted while eating, while enjoying and savoring each bite of your food. Nothing should be done recklessly and without moderation, so a healthy diet is encouraged not just for health but to savor the culinary delights. A few tips are highlighted below to help Muslims plan a diet that is both healthy and mindful.

1. Balanced Diet

A balanced diet can be defined as ‘a diet which consists of a variety of different types of food and also provides the necessary nutrients required for good health.’ A balanced diet consists of appropriate amounts of meat, fish, fresh milk, cheese, and fruit. An appropriately balanced diet is crucial for the health and fitness of the mind and the body. Interestingly, the positive impact of a balanced diet on productivity has not gone unseen. Many workplaces today like DEENIN acknowledge the benefit of encouraging their employees in keeping a balanced diet along with promoting the concept of a healthy balanced diet for the establishment of a physically and mentally healthy society.

2. Drink Plenty of Water

No campaign towards a healthy and mindful eating plan can succeed without a liberal inclusion of water. The overall fitness of mind and body cannot be maintained without steady hydration. Water helps regulate body temperature, aids in digestion, and removes waste from the body. Everyone should drink at least eight glasses of water per day.

3. Eating and Chewing Slowly

Islam has laid heavy emphasis upon chewing each morsel of food slowly before swallowing. Not only does this aid in digestion but also heightens the pleasure of eating and allows one to feel the delight of enjoying Allah’s blessings.

4. Eating in Moderation

As with everything else, Islam advises moderation in eating as well to achieve a balance between starvation and gluttony. Allah SWT says in the Holy Quran:
‘Eat and drink but avoid excess’ (Quran, 20:81).
A hadith narrated by Tirmizi further advises Muslims to leave ‘one third of the belly with food, another third with drink and leave one third empty for easy breathing.’

5. Incorporate Physical Activity into Your Daily Routine

Once one has a solid diet plan that promises to be healthy and mindful, following up with physical activity is exactly the cherry on top needed to maintain ideal fitness. Physical activity can help burn calories, build muscle, and improve cardiovascular health. Muslims can participate in various forms of physical activity that are Halal, such as walking, jogging, biking, hiking, swimming and doing yoga. Praying Salah includes different exercising positions, which also help in burning calories and keeping your body active throughout the day.

*For more details and explanation please contact an Alim/Religious Scholar.


  • 20 health tips from Islamic teachings. The Express Tribune. (2015, April 11). https://tribune.com.pk/story/865353/20-health-tips-from-islamic-teachings
  • Halalfoundation. (2023, April 10). Muslim dietary laws & fasting practices you need to know - AHF. American Halal Foundation. https://halalfoundation.org/muslim-dietary-laws-fasting-practices-you-need-to-know/
  • Stay fit with halal diet: ISA. Islamic Services of America. (2023, August 10). https://www.isahalal.com/news-events/blog/how-be-fit-while-following-halal-diet#:~:text=Eat%20Plenty%20of%20Fruits%20and%20Vegetables&text=A%20diet%20rich%20in%20fruits,spinach%2C%20carrots%2C%20and%20cucumbers.
  • What Islam says about the right diet and Right Food. Quran. (2020, August 21). https://www.quranexplorer.com/blog/Education-In-The-Light-Of-Sunnah-And-Qura’an/What_Islam_says_about_the_Right_Diet_and_Right_Food
  • Zarairfan. (2019, May 9). The importance of balanced diet- prescribed in Quran and Hadith. Islamic Articles. https://www.quranreading.com/blog/the-importance-of-balanced-diet-prescribed-in-quran-and-hadith/#:~:text=He%20says%3A%20%E2%80%9CO%20you%20who,help%20us%20to%20stay%20healthy

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