In a world where traditions fade away or take on new forms, it's time to give a nod to those forgotten gems. Some transformations are undeniably for the better, but there's one age-old practice that has stood the test of time: eating with our hands! Sure, shiny cutlery may have taken over our tables, but there's a tribe of bold individuals who still relish the touch of their fingertips on their meals. Let's take a delicious journey back in time to ancient civilizations like India, Greece and Egypt, where this vibrant tradition thrived.
But according to food and health experts, eating with your hands goes beyond mere tradition - it's a health-conscious choice! You might not have given it a second thought, but fear not, we've got your back (and your plate) covered. From improved digestion to heightened awareness of portion sizes, eating with hands has more health benefits than you might have ever imagined.
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What Ayurveda Says
Ayurveda is an ancient system of medicine in India that teaches us how to live in harmony with nature. According to Ayurveda, eating with your hands is not only hygienic but also beneficial for your senses and digestion. Ayurveda says that each finger represents one of the five elements: space (thumb), air (index finger), fire (middle finger), water (ring finger), and earth (little finger). When we eat with our hands, we make a gesture that activates these elements and balances the energies in our body. Also, when we touch our food with our fingers, we send signals to our brain that we are ready to eat, which prepares our stomach and other digestive organs for the process of digestion. Eating with hands also helps us to be more mindful of what we eat, how much we eat, and how fast we eat, which are all important factors for healthy digestion.
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What Science Says:
Eating with your hands may also have some scientific benefits that are supported by research. Some of these benefits are:
1. Improves Blood Circulation
Eating with hands involves the movement of the fingers and the hand muscles, which can improve blood circulation and prevent stiffness in the joints.
2. Stimulates Digestion
Eating with hands can stimulate the production of digestive enzymes and juices in the mouth and stomach, which can help break down the food more efficiently and prevent indigestion, bloating, and gas.
3. Prevents Overeating
Eating with hands can make us more aware of the texture, taste, and aroma of the food, which can increase our satisfaction and satiety levels. This can prevent us from overeating and help us maintain a healthy weight.
4. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels
Eating with hands can slow down the speed of eating, which can lower the glycemic index of the food and prevent spikes in blood sugar levels. This can be beneficial for people with diabetes or prediabetes.
5. Boosts Immunity
Eating with hands can expose us to some beneficial bacteria or flora that reside on our skin, mouth, and gut. These bacteria can protect us from harmful pathogens and infections and strengthen our immune system.
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What Culture Says:
Eating food with hands is not only a healthy habit but also a cultural one. Many cuisines around the world are designed to be eaten with hands, such as Indian rotis and curries, Ethiopian injera and stews, Moroccan couscous and tagines, Mexican tacos and burritos, etc. Eating these foods with cutlery can take away from their authentic flavour and experience. Eating food with hands can also create a sense of connection and intimacy with the food, the people who prepared it, and the people who share it. It can foster a sense of gratitude and appreciation for the food that nourishes us.
The Art of Eating with Hands
The process of eating with hands involves more than just picking up food. Different cultures have their own techniques and etiquette when it comes to eating with hands. For example, in Indian culture, using the right hand is preferred as the left hand is considered unclean. Each finger may be used for different types of food such as using the thumb and index finger for tearing off a piece of bread or using all fingers to mix rice and curry. Understanding and respecting these cultural nuances can enhance the experience of eating with hands.
Mindful Eating and Connection
Eating with hands can promote mindful eating, which involves being fully present and attentive to the act of eating. The sensory experience of touching food with hands, feeling its texture, and experiencing its temperature can deepen the connection with the food. By slowing down the eating process, we can savour each bite, appreciate the flavours, and develop a greater sense of gratitude for the nourishment the food provides.
Hygiene and Food Safety
While eating with hands offers various benefits, it is crucial to maintain proper hygiene. Washing hands before and after eating is essential to prevent the spread of bacteria. Additionally, keeping nails trimmed and clean, and avoiding touching the face or hair during the meal, ensures food safety. These hygiene measures are important for enjoying the practice of eating with hands without any concerns.
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The Bottom Line
Eating food with hands is a healthy habit that has many benefits for our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It can enhance our digestion, blood circulation, immunity, and weight management. It can also enrich our sensory experience, mindfulness, and cultural awareness. However, eating food with hands also requires some hygiene measures. By following these precautions and embracing the art of eating with hands mindfully, we can enjoy the health benefits and cultural richness that this tradition offers.
So, ditch the utensils, roll up those sleeves, and get ready to savour every morsel with a touch of finger-licking indulgence!
Note: Remember to wash your hands and keep your nails tidy for a truly hygienic and delightful experience. Trust us, eating with hands will make you wonder why you ever bothered with those clunky spoons and forks.
About Shubham BhatnagarYou can often find Shubham at a small authentic Chinese or Italian restaurant sampling exotic foods and sipping a glass of wine, but he will wolf down a plate of piping hot samosas with equal gusto. However, his love for homemade food trumps all.