Eating with your hands comes with numerous benefits, from helping you manage digestive problems and preventing diseases like Type 2 Diabetes to even helping you just get closer to your food. With all of these benefits, it makes you wonder why we even use utensils in the first place!

After reading up on its advantages and getting dared by my roommate, I decided to accept the challenge and take on a week of eating only with my hands. Here's what happened. 

Day One

Emily Petruska

The goal was to see if this lifestyle is sustainable in everyday life and if the benefits are worth it. On day one I decided that I wasn't going to take the easy way out and only eat foods that are traditionally eaten by hand... but it just so happened that my mom decided to make fish tacos for dinner. It was definitely a sign from the universe.

And while I know that the way I'm going to be eating with my hands isn't exactly the way other cultures eat with their hands, I'm going to try my best. Overall, day one wasn't too difficult and eating with my hands was kind of fun. I was ready for day two. This challenge was going to be cake.

Day Two

Emily Petruska

As this was my first week home on winter break, most of my breakfasts for the week consisted of avocado toast because avocados aren't easy to come by on the meal plan. This made breakfast easy and out of the way. Most snacks are easily eaten by hand but my go-to this week was apples and peanut butter.

Dinner was the hard part. While I made all the rest of my meals, my mom was in charge of dinner which lead to some creative eating methods on my part to eat the food that was put in front of me without grossing out my family or making a huge mess. 

For some dinners that were served with bread, I found myself eating more bread than normal. My new method of eating was similar to how members of the Indian culture would use naan, roti or chapati to scoop up food with a twist of their wrist.  While other cultures believe that using your five fingers brings the five elements into your meal, I was just trying to find a way to eat in the easiest way possible.

Day Three

cereal, tea
Jessica Barefoot

For as long as I can remember, my mom has been a stickler for table manners and using utensils during meals. The phrase "Would you eat like that at a friend's house?" was brought up at least once a week and even the simple word "elbows" had us all trained to immediately make sure our elbows weren't anywhere near the table's surface. We weren't even able to eat a chicken leg unless we had taken off most of the meat with our knife and fork first. 

This week, however, was for science which meant that I was totally able to eat without her utensil rules for the first time since I was two. Cue the teen rebellion I've always wanted. This only began to get difficult when we had roast chicken with rice and beans for dinner one night. Maybe I was starting to miss my fork after all.

Day Four

Emily Petruska

While I haven't directly felt my risk of getting Type 2 Diabetes or other diseases go down or my digestive system working any more normally, I have felt closer to my food. 

Instead of using my fork to shovel down food when I'm hungry, I consciously could only eat the amount of food that I could pick up at a time. I also had to wait for my food to be cool enough to the touch which avoids the accidental and awkward experience of attempting to cool it down while it's already in my mouth by swallowing it quickly or drinking water.

Plus, because I was using my hands/fingers, I converted from being a "compartment eater" to a "proportional saver." Now it's not like I had brumotactillophobia before, but I would just eat my meat and THEN my potatoes. This week taught me that I could use meat to help scoop up some potatoes, or in my case on Day Three, use my chicken to scoop up some rice and beans and combine flavors. 

Day Five

This challenge also gave me a lesson in eating mindfully. Because I was eating with my hands, I wasn't able to do anything else besides eat or else I'd be getting my phone or laptop dirty. All multitasking was eliminated during mealtime which isn't a bad thing. 

But I failed. Although I was supposed to eat with my hands for a week, I ended up only lasting for five days because my family had enough and wouldn't let me continue after we had shrimp and pasta for dinner one night... that was an adventure.

So the Question You're All Asking: Is It Worth It?

While eating with your hands may give you long term benefits and may bring you closer to your food, I personally didn't find it sustainable in today's world. As a college student who's always on the go, it really isn't a realistic way to eat unless I buy a gallon of hand sanitizer or have soap and a sink nearby at all times. 

And besides all of my nail polish chipping off from constantly washing my hands, the amount of napkins I used definitely wasn't good for the environment. After failing this challenge after less than a week, I now have a newfound respect for those who retain their culture and choose to eat with their hands for all meals every day.