by Fudia Muhammad
We cannot overemphasize the profound value and wisdom contained in two monumental books written by the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, How to Eat to Live (HTETL) – Book I and Book II. He gives his readers the diet prescribed by Allah (God) that will prolong our life and keep illness and disease at bay. The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad provides a list of foods that will sustain human life and also the foods that are harmful for our health; giving a clear explanation of both.In addition, he teaches us how our food should be prepared, the best times to eat, how often we should eat, the benefits of fasting, and so much more.
If we study nature, read the scriptures, ask doctors or nutritionists – all will confirm that the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad is correct when he wrote, “Mothers should feed their babies from their breast milk if they possibly can, as this is the best” (HTETL – Book I p. 67). This is no longer being debated – there is simply no man-made synthetic formula, manufactured in a lab that can come close to God’s chemistry. However, even though it is perfect and nutritionally beneficial, breast milk will not be sufficient indefinitely. Therefore, throughout both books, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad describes how to transition to a sustainable diet for our babies and children.
He writes, “When you are able to start feeding them on solid food, give them weak [navy] bean soup – not the highly seasoned, strong soup that you eat. You also can start them out with orange juice and mashed apples. This is done whenever you think the baby is able – after he is about three months old. This depends on the health of the baby and its age” (HTETL – Book I p. 67). Mothers often make the mistake of introducing solid foods to their babies too soon. Those who use formula will often thicken the milk with processed cereals, causing illness. The stomach and digestive system of an infant is not the same as an adult; it is very sensitive and cannot handle much more than milk. We should bear in mind that during infancy, solid food should be a supplement to breast milk not the staple.
As the baby gets older and stronger it will be necessary to increase the intake of solid foods; but the baby should continue to nurse from his mother’s breast until the age of two. All solid food should be mashed or pureed until the baby has teeth and can sufficiently chew the food well enough to be easily digested. This should be done by hand or with a kitchen appliance, as we are warned not to feed our babies (chewed) food out of our own mouth (HTETL – Book II p. 89).
It is important when transitioning our babies from a breast milk-only diet to adding solid foods, that we do not allow them to dictate their own diet. We must choose the best foods available and be an example. The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad said, “Some mothers are very careless. The baby can act as if he wants what mother is eating, and even if it is a beef steak, she will cut him a piece. We create sickness right in our homes, from the cradle to the grave” (HTETL – Book I p. 67).
After being completely weaned from breast milk, the diet of parents and children in terms of “what” should be eaten is the same. If it is not good for our children, it is not good for us and vice-versa. Our children should continue to consume good, pure whole milk daily. The only time we are cautioned against too much milk, is if our children suffer from bronchial-asthma (HTETL – Book II p. 90). But generally, we are taught to feed our babies and children good navy beans, good milk and thoroughly cooked wheat bread.
The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad states that meat is against life! It is very difficult to insist on a vegetarian diet for our children and have it sustained if we are not vegetarian ourselves. We must become what we want to produce. Our children will not desire any meat, including fish, if the family as a whole does not consume it. A vegetarian (not vegan) diet is the best diet prescribed for us and our children by God Himself. So we should begin our children on a vegetarian diet from the womb. They will be healthier, stronger, more intelligent, and it will prolong their lives. Fruits, vegetables and grains are from the earth and contain the seed of life even when harvested. On the contrary, meat is against life because the animal must be killed in order to be consumed. We are what we eat. So consuming a carcass is consuming death, which can only lead us faster to the grave.
Promoting a diet of three meals a day is probably the biggest nutritional falsehood out there. No human being, not even children require three meals a day. In fact, eating too often is worse than eating food of lesser quality.Three meals a day and snacking in between is death for us. The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad said that you cannot replace the stomach, “When it wears out, you are gone” (HTETL – Book II p. 151). It is the overworking of the stomach and digestive system that eventually kills us.
In How to Eat to Live – Book II, he writes, “Children should not be forced to fast or to eat once a day or once every other day. Children and babies should eat at least twice a day” (p. 31). In the same book, he later emphasizes this point by adding, “Adults should try to eat one meal a day. If you eat one meal every two days, three days or five days it is okay, but do not force children under 16 years of age to do the same. They are growing and most of them need two meals a day” (p. 90). The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad does not state when these two meals should take place, but The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has told us that we should not send our children to school on an empty stomach; they should eat breakfast before going to school. The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad then states that we(adults) should have our one meal between 4:00 to 6:00pm if possible; if not, it should be at the same time each day.
Again, our children should eat at least twice a day. Two healthy meals a day without overindulging is sufficient. We should refrain from snacking because snacking interrupts the period of rest that we want to give our stomach before the next meal – so we should not get our children into the habit of snacking. Not to mention that most of us resort to processed or sugar-filled snacks. The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad said that there is enough sugar in fruits, vegetables and bread for us (HTETL – Book II p. 64). So let us strive to reserve snacks for long distance travel or instances when food will not be readily available.
Disciplining ourselves and our children to follow this prescribed diet will reap benefits for future generations that we cannot fathom today. The long life of the prophets and others in the scriptures are not fairy tales. Master Fard Muhammad said that we could enable our children to live to an age of 240 years. Some may be able to eat two meals per week, which the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad said would put us into centuries as Noah and Methuselah lived. We may not be physically around to witness this reality; but how we eat, think and live our lives today will give us peace of mind, knowing that our descendants will experience the promised abundance of life tomorrow.
(Sister Fudia Muhammad is a member of Muhammad Mosque No. 64 in Austin, Texas. She is married to Student Minister Robert L. Muhammad and they have been blessed with four children. Sister Fudia holds a Master’s degree in Education – she is a writer, an educator and an advocate for God-centered child-rearing.)