Can you imagine using a spoon, fork or a knife to pull the meat off your favourite chicken wings? Won’t you rather just pick it up with your bare hands and take a big juicy bite?
An article in Food Republic highlights how eating with hands is a practice quite prevalent in India, Africa and The Middle East.
For example in India, it is disrespectful to eat with the left hand (sorry lefties!).
In Africa, the same rule as India and two bowls of water are placed in front of you with the dish: one bowl is for washing your hands before the meal and one after it.
In the Middle-East, it’s the same rules except the food is scooped with hands or the bread (mostly pita bread) from the communal plate.
It is also a practice being adopted by a lot of Americans lately. The availability of different cuisines like Indian, Mexican and Middle-Eastern is making it possible for many people to experience and take it up.
Eating with hands has been around longer than cutlery. A practice that was adopted by the most civilised of the civilisations like Indus Valley, Greek and the Egyptians, it would hence be incorrect to call it barbaric.
But besides necessity, there are a lot of other reasons for it that you must know:
1. What Ayurveda Explains
Eating is supposed to be a sensory experience and it is said to evoke emotion and passion. According to the Vedas, hands are the most precious organs of action. The scriptures reveal how every finger is an extension of the five elements. Through the thumb comes space, with the forefinger comes air, the middle finger is fire, the ring finer is water and the little finger represents earth.
Hence, eating with one’s fingers stimulates these five elements and helps in bringing forth digestive juices in the stomach.
The nerve endings on our fingertips are known to stimulate digestion. Feeling your food becomes a way of signalling the stomach that you are about to eat. You become more conscious of the taste, textures and aromas.
2. Because our Hands are Good Enough
Biologically speaking, our hands were made to be multi-taskers. We can pick up things, scratch, feel, touch, make it into a claw shape and pick up small stuff or large stuff, hold water without dropping it…Do you get the point?
DISCLAIMER: Spoons are recommended while drinking soup or gravy, though.
3. Helps Manage our Food Portions
Eating with hands makes you eat slower and hence digest better because you become more aware of the process of eating as you experience it with all your senses.
Many recent studies have shown how you can mange your portions using the hand trick.
Here’s an awesome article on the same.
4. Eating with Hands is an Exercise too
Eating with hands increases the blood circulation in the body since it is sort of a muscle exercise.
For all you lazy bums out there like me, you know what to answer when someone asks about your exercise schedule next time.*wink wink*
5. Helps Manage Digestion Problems
An article in The Tribune talks about how we have a bacteria, known as normal flora found on the palm and fingers of the hand. It is not harmful to humans, it, in fact, protects us from many damaging microbes in the environment. When you eat with your hands, the flora in the fingers is swallowed. It is beneficial for health and for various body parts such as the mouth, throat, and intestine, and it promotes healthy digestion in the gut.
As mentioned above handling food with your fingers releases digestive juices and enzymes. Also, millions of nerve endings in your fingers relay the message that you’re about to eat, including the temperature of the food, level of spiciness and texture of food, thereby prepping the stomach for digestion.
6. Helps You Stay Fit
Besides better digestion, managing food portion and muscle exercise (hehe) but two studies published in the journal Appetite found that when people ate by hand while simultaneously reading a newspaper or watching TV, they were less hungry at snack-time and opted for a smaller snack. Researchers concluded that eating by hand promotes a sense of fullness and satiety as compared to eating with utensils.
7. Helps Prevent Diseases like Type 2 Diabetes.
All the above advantages and the fact that it helps prevent type 2 diabetes. A new study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition found that people with type 2 diabetes were more likely to be fast eaters that used cutlery to eat, as compared to people without the condition. Eating with forks and spoons correlates with faster eating, which has been linked to blood-sugar imbalances in the body — contributing to the development of type 2 diabetes.
8. It is More Hygienic
Contrary to popular belief eating with hands is way more hygienic than with utensils because of the simple reason that you wash your hands multiple times a day while we wash the utensils once a day. We are conscious of the cleanliness of our hands and hence whatever happens our hands will be cleaner at the end of the day.