What Does It Mean to “Eat Less than Your Fill?”

Answered by Shaykh Yusuf Weltch

Question

I saw on your website that a Muslim should eat well such that they can fulfill their duties, and that one should simply not eat to their “fill.”

Please could you explain what it means to eat less than your fill, to your fill, and beyond your fill?

Also please could you reconcile “eating well” with the hadith that says to eat only to a third of your stomach’s capacity, as this seems like a small amount? I seem to always hear that it is better to eat less, not “well.”

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate

If we look at the Prophet’s eating habits (may Allah bless him and give him peace) we find two common factors: wholesome food (regarding quality) and the consumption of a small amount of food.

Eating Well

Eating well should be understood to mean, eating wholesome healthy food, as Allah Most High says, “So eat from the good, lawful things which Allah has provided for you, and be grateful for Allah’s favors if you ˹truly˺ worship Him ˹alone˺.” [Quran, 16:114]

Smaller Amounts

The second factor is with regards to quantity. The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The human has never filled a container worse than the stomach. It is sufficient for the child of Adam (peace be upon him) some morsels by which they can keep their back straight; if (more) is necessary, then one-third (of the stomach) for his food, one-third for his drink, and one-third for his breathe.” [Tirmidhi]

Eating only one-third stomach full may be difficult for many people. The advice we have received from our teachers is that one should stop eating when they feel satiated even though they desire more.

This itself is difficult, however, one should strive to reach this point.

Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a teacher of Arabic, Islamic law, and spirituality. After accepting Islam in 2008, he then completed four years at the Darul Uloom seminary in New York where he studied Arabic and the traditional sciences. He then traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he stayed for three years studying in Dar Al-Mustafa under some of the greatest scholars of our time, including Habib Umar Bin Hafiz, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf, and Shaykh Umar al-Khatib. In Tarim, Shaykh Yusuf completed the memorization of the Qur’an and studied beliefs, legal methodology, hadith methodology, Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic history, and a number of texts on spirituality. He joined the SeekersGuidance faculty in the summer of 2019.

Arabic References:

 حَدَّثَنَا سُوَيْدُ بْنُ نَصْرٍ قَالَ: أَخْبَرَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ المُبَارَكِ قَالَ: أَخْبَرَنَا إِسْمَاعِيلُ بْنُ عَيَّاشٍ قَالَ: حَدَّثَنِي أَبُو سَلَمَةَ الحِمْصِيُّ، وَحَبِيبُ بْنُ صَالِحٍ، عَنْ يَحْيَى بْنِ جَابِرٍ الطَّائِيِّ، عَنْ مِقْدَامِ بْنِ مَعْدِي كَرِبَ، قَالَ: سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقُولُ: «§مَا مَلَأَ آدَمِيٌّ وِعَاءً شَرًّا مِنْ بَطْنٍ. بِحَسْبِ ابْنِ آدَمَ أُكُلَاتٌ يُقِمْنَ صُلْبَهُ، فَإِنْ كَانَ لَا مَحَالَةَ فَثُلُثٌ لِطَعَامِهِ وَثُلُثٌ لِشَرَابِهِ وَثُلُثٌ لِنَفَسِهِ» حَدَّثَنَا الحَسَنُ بْنُ عَرَفَةَ قَالَ: حَدَّثَنَا إِسْمَاعِيلُ بْنُ عَيَّاشٍ، نَحْوَهُ، وَقَالَ المِقْدَامُ بْنُ مَعْدِي كَرِبَ: عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، وَلَمْ يَذْكُرْ فِيهِ سَمِعْتُ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ»
——–
ص590 – سنن الترمذي ت شاكر – باب ما جاء في كراهية كثرة الأكل – المكتبة الشاملة الحديثة