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If you have ever visited India you would have certainly come across people eating with their hands and not with cutlery.
In India, as well as some of the parts of the world, eating with your hands is part of the culture. Though many may view this custom as uncivilized, the practice is not as easy as it may look. There is, in fact, a skill to it and manners to follow.
Besides, there are also several health benefits from eating with your hands such as improves digestion and prevention of diabetes. According to Indian culture, there’s also an even deep significance as to why eating with your hands is so important.
Why Eating with Hands Is Healthy? According to Ayurveda
The practice of eating with the hands originated within Ayurvedic teachings. The Vedic people believed that our bodies are in sync with the elements of nature and our hands hold a certain power. Ayurvedic texts teach that each finger is an extension of one of the five elements:
- Through the thumb comes space
- Through the forefinger comes air
- Through the mid-finger comes fire
- Through the ring finger comes water
- Through the pinky finger comes earth
When you eat with your hands, you are supposed to do so by joining all fingers together which is believed to better our consciousness of the taste of the food we eat. Not only are you feeding your body but also your mind and spirit. When you touch your food with your hands, you’re creating a physical and spiritual connection with it. You’re also much more present at the moment. When food is touched with the hands, there’s automatically more careful attention placed on it - what the temperature is, how much you can carry, how the hand must be held in order to keep the food in it.
However, there’s a technique of eating with hands. In the south of India, it’s considered ill-mannered to let the palm of your hands or outside of your fingers get stained. As per rules, one has to only use the tips of your fingers to pick up the food. This goes back to our fingertips holding certain energies.
Health Benefits of Eating with Hands
Promotes Mindful Eating
Eating with hands requires you to be fully present. And a calm, aware state of mind allows optimum digestion and helps with not overeating.
When you eat with your fingers you feel more connected with your food.
Not only does mindful eating amend the assimilation of nutrients from the food you eat, but also enhances digestion and makes you leave the table with a serene state of mind.
When you touch the food with your hands, the millions of nerves endings in your fingers transmit the message to your brain that you’re about to eat. This message is then passed to your stomach, which starts releasing the digestive juices and enzymes that are needed for digestion.
In addition to that, nerve endings in your fingers can even sense the temperature and texture of the food you are about to eat and thereby prepare your brain to trigger the release of the appropriate digestive juices and enzymes before the food even meets our lips.
Prevents You from Burning Your Palate and Tongue
Our hands are very effective temperature sensors. When you eat with a fork, the food goes directly from the plate into your mouth, and you may not realize that’s too hot.
When you touch your food with hands, the nerve endings on your fingertips direct a temperature reading to the stomach, effectively preventing you from burning your tongue.
By Sowmya Sangam