Many traditional cultures have eaten with their hands throughout the ages and many still do today. What, and how, we eat has always been influenced by cultural, socioeconomic, and political factors throughout the ages. While the cook pot has been around for over 10,000 years, the wooden spoon was the first utensil adopted in general use. The knife and fork have only been adopted at the table in the last 250 years or so. Even though there is currently a general consensus that we eat with utensils, there are still socially acceptable times when we may eat with our hands even in today’s Western culture, such as when eating a chicken leg.
Many argue that we should return to eating with our hands for a variety of reasons:
- Five Pranas – According to Vedic tradition, each finger represents one of the five elements (air, earth, fire, water and ether or space) and, by eating with our hands, we allow the five elements to begin to transform and digest oour food even before it reaches our mouth.
- Digestion – Many argue that the flora and enzymes on our fingers are ingested with the food, benefiting our digestive tract. This may be, but it is important to thoroughly wash hands prior to eating, especially if you are eating with your fingers, as there are many contagions that may be ingested as well.
- Sensual Connection – Some feel that the sense of touch conveys to the stomach that we are about to eat, increasing digestive activity even before we take the first bite.
- Temperature – We are less likely to burn our mouth and tongue when we eat with our fingers, as we will know exactly how hot something is before biting into it.
- Mindfulness – Eating with our hands slows us down. It brings in a sense of mindfulness which has been shown to reduce binge eating and ends mindless snacking. This aids in weight loss and helps us stay on track in maintaining a healthy weight and diet.
PLUS: Let’s face it, snacks and “finger foods” tend to be fun to share with others in social gatherings! This is a great way for everyone to bring their favorite foods to enjoy and share with friends.
While there is definitely a time and place for eating with utensils, eating with your hands can also be a lot of fun and may be just the change of pace that allows us to slow down and reduce overeating.