The floor isn’t just to be walked on; you can eat on it too.
The Prophet sallahu alayhi wasallam once said;
I do not eat whilst reclining (Sahih Al Bukhari, Hadith No 4979)
With the advancement of technology, one would think that health would improve. Yet our health is a lot worse than what it was 50 years ago. Why? Because with technology we have become arrogant, forgotten how to listen to our bodies and in turn have turned to gluttony.
In this post I want to share with you the Sunnah of eating on the floor. Let’s all revive this Sunnah insha’Allah.
Aids in weight loss
I get a lot of questions on how to lose weight and one of the things I like to ask my clients are their eating habits. I’m a massive advocate of mindful eating, which simply means engaging with your food. Nowadays, we are sat in front of the T.V. or on our phones, so our sense of touch, smell, taste and sight are never fully activated.
However, when we sit on the floor it activates the ‘vagus’ nerve (the nerve which transmits signals between the stomach and the brain) and thus allows your stomach to tell your brain, when its full.
The Prophet sallahu alayhi wasallam would sit either kneeling or resting on the top of his feet. Basically, the position wouldn’t be as comfortable as someone lying down. An-Nawwai commented that the Prophet sallahu alayhi wasallam would ‘sit like one who is going to get up quickly and thus would eat a little’.
When you sit in this position you are more than likely to eat less and feel fuller quicker, which is line with the Shar’iah.
How amazing is the Sunnah! Everything that the Prophet sallahu alayhi wasallam did had some sort of health benefit, subhanAllah (Glory be to God).
Helps your muscles and improves posture
Sitting down in a chair to eat does funny things to our bodies. It stretches out our glutes, making them inactive, loose, and weak. People no longer know how to activate their butt muscles due to excessive amounts of chair sitting. Sitting in a chair also keeps the hip flexors in a short, tight and in a contracted position for extended amounts of time, which can inhibit full hip extension and lead to that hunched over position you often see older folks with. And that’s not even mentioning the extensive (and growing) literature showing how sitting for too long increases mortality and degenerative disease.
Sitting becomes a totally passive act, where we’re slumped over, shoulders rounded, feet twisted up and resting on the chair legs, totally dependent on the structure of the chair to support our weight – rather than using our musculature and arranging our skeletal system in such a way that we support ourselves.
You could say chairs are the GMO of the furniture world.
We’re getting progressively weaker and more reliant on the backing of the chair, and when we’re in a sitting situation without added back support, we can’t handle it. Instead of sitting erect, shoulders back, strong and straight, head held high; we just slump over and use the curvature of our spine to support our bodies. If you don’t believe me, start watching for it. Look around at your colleagues, family, and friends, and see how they sit. Most people slump.
People who sit on the floor around the world, are known to live longer and be able to carry heavy items, even into their old age. The squat position is effortless for them and science proves that it’s because they sit on the floor.
Sitting on the floor and eating assists in better digestion. When the plate is in the front, your body has to bend forward to pick the food up. You move back & forth and then return to the sitting position. This constant movement helps activate the abdomen muscles throughout the meal and further, secretes better digestive juices. All of this will ensure that the food is digested properly and quickly.
If you are someone, who sits on the floor to eat, then you must have observed that you feel warmer and at times sweaty as well. Ever thought why? It is because when you eat, your stomach requires energy to digest it. According to experts, one of the important elements of digestion is a proper blood circulation. In order to maintain the process, our heart works overtime to assist the digestive system.
Now, this is exactly where sitting on the floor and eating helps. The heart obtains the benefits when the blood is pumped to the digestive organs. On the other hand, when you take dining table and chair, the pattern of blood flow is just the opposite. It directly goes to your legs, making it harder for the digestive system to function.
Lubricates the knee and hip joints
As noted above about the muscles, sitting on the floor to eat, also helps keep your joints flexible. The more you practice sitting on the floor the more flexible your joints will become thus you are less likely to be prone to arthritis.
The Prophet sallahu alayhi wasallam is reported to have said;
I eat as a slave eats and I sit as a slave sits. (Narrated by Abu Ya’laa, 8/318)
Sitting on the floor grounds you. As Muslims we should constantly remind ourselves of our final abode; the grave. Being on the ground to eat, can give a grateful perspective on your life and on people around you.
It helps calm your mind and really focus on your food and the environment around you.