How Ditching Cutlery Could Change Your Relationship with Food. 

Fork, Knife, or Fingers? 

How Ditching Cutlery Could Change Your Relationship with Food. 

Sahguru, a renowned yogi bowing down to his food.
Pic credits @Isha Foundation

 I vividly remember a time when I was in grade 2, after coming back from school I was relishing my favorite, Matar Pulav ( Basmati rice cooked with peas and vegetables), with my bare hands. I felt a sense of contentment and joy wash over me. I was lost in the moment, savoring each morsel and fully immersed in the experience of eating. I still feel that every time I eat quietly. 

But unfortunately, that moment of bliss was shattered by a thoughtless comment from an aunty, “Have your home run out of spoons?” I was taken aback, shocked, and embarrassed. I didn’t know how to respond to her. 

From that day on, I refrained from eating with my hands until I went for my yoga training at Isha Ashram.  It was almost compulsory to eat with hands at the ashram.

As I continued to eat with my hands, it became second nature to me. When I returned home, I realized the stark difference that the act of eating with hands created. I made a conscious decision after some time to switch back to eating with my hands, at least 80% of the time. It was as if I had reconnected with a part of myself that I had long forgotten – a part that felt more connected to my food and the experience of eating. 

Eating with hands has not only cultural and religious significance, but it also has numerous physical and emotional benefits supported by modern science! 

Intrigued? 

Let’s dive deep into the science behind this ancient practice and uncover how it can positively impact our health and well-being

Exploring the Health Benefits of Eating with Your Hands: A Dive into Ancient Wisdom

  1.   The Elemental Wisdom: Eating with Hands connects you to five elements

Our hands are considered as the most precious organs of action, and each finger is believed to be connected to one of the five elements – space, air, fire, water, and earth. The thumb represents space, the forefinger represents air, the middle finger symbolizes fire, the ring finger signifies water, and the little finger represents earth. When we eat with our hands, the contact between our fingertips and the food is believed to stimulate these elements, which in turn helps in the production of digestive juices in the stomach. This ancient wisdom highlights the holistic approach towards eating, recognizing the importance of not just what we eat, but also how we eat

  1.  Improved Digestion:

When we eat with our hands, the tactile experience of touching food stimulates the nerve endings in our fingers, signaling the brain to release digestive enzymes and gastric juices. These enzymes help break down food and facilitate the digestive process. Eating with hands also promotes slower and more mindful eating, as we take smaller bites and thoroughly chew our food. This allows our digestive system to work more efficiently, resulting in improved digestion and better absorption of nutrients

  1. Enhanced Taste and Flavor Perception:

The sense of touch plays a crucial role in our perception of taste and flavor. When we eat with our hands, we can feel the texture, temperature, and consistency of the food, which can greatly enhance our taste and flavor experience. The nerve endings in our fingers can pick up subtle differences in the food, allowing us to savor the flavors more intensely.

  1.   Gauge the Ideal Temperature: No more burning your mouth

We’ve all experienced burning our tongues on hot food.  Eating with your hands can actually help you avoid those painful mishaps! Our fingers are naturally sensitive to heat, so by touching the food, you can gauge its temperature before taking a bite.

 Eating with your hands lets you enjoy your food at the perfect temperature, adding an extra layer of satisfaction to your mealtime.

  1.   Is Hand-to-Mouth Eating Really Unhygienic? Dispelling the Misconception

Contrary to popular belief, eating with your hands can actually be a more sanitary option compared to using utensils. 

Sadhguru says, “If food is not good enough to be touched, I do not know how it is good enough to be eaten!”

Think about it this way: how many times do you wash your hands in a day? 

Most likely, multiple times. On the other hand, how often do you thoroughly wash your utensils? 

Probably only once a day. 

Our hands are constantly exposed to water, soap, and conscious cleaning, making them inherently cleaner than utensils that may harbor hidden bacteria.

Research has also shown that utensils, especially when not cleaned properly, can harbor harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses. On the other hand, our skin has natural antimicrobial properties that can help reduce the risk of contamination from harmful bacteria. Washing our hands thoroughly before eating can further enhance the hygiene aspect of eating with hands.

So, next time you’re tempted to think that eating with your hands is unhygienic, think again! With proper hand hygiene practices, eating with your hands can actually be a clean and healthy way to enjoy your food.

  1.   Helps Manage Food Portions

With the plethora of food choices and constant distractions, it’s easy to lose sight of how much we’re consuming.

However, eating with our hands is an effective and intuitive approach to managing food portions. 

Our hands are inherently connected to our body size and can serve as a natural measuring tool for food intake. Also when we eat with our hands, we are more likely to eat slowly, chew thoroughly & become more attuned to our body’s signals and cues, such as recognizing when we feel satisfied or full, which helps us avoid overeating.

Eating with our hands creates a unique connection between our body and our food, evoking a sense of intimacy and mindfulness that is often lost when using cutlery.We become more present in the moment, fully experiencing the flavors and aromas of our food, and are less likely to mindlessly consume large portions.

Are you ready to level up your dining experience?

If you have not tried yet,  give eating with your hands a try? 

It’s a simple pleasure that can elevate your dining experience to a whole new level. 

 So let’s get back to our roots , slow down, be present in the moment, and rediscover the joy of connecting with our food in a mindful and delicious way. Bon appétit!

We also want to hear from you! Share your own experiences, stories, and any other insight about eating with hands in the comments section below.

12 Responses
  1. Aanchal

    Such a good read! Git so many new insights into eating with hands. Thanks a lot Kritika, for compiling all this information so beautifully!
    ~Aanchal

  2. Aanchal

    Such a good read! Got so many new insights into eating with hands. Thanks a lot Kritika, for compiling all this information so beautifully!
    ~Aanchal

  3. Gagan kairay

    Ever since I switched to eating directly with hands than the cutlery it made my bond with the food beyond taste and flavors. I actually feel what I am about to take into my body. Thanks Kritika akka, for a reminder as how important this is for all us to follow throughout.

    -Gagan

  4. Abhilash Aravindakshan

    Whenever I eat with spoon I don’t feel a sense of satisfaction even if it is my favorite food. Touching the food you eat creates a beautiful sense of respect towards it and the sensory experience also goes on to a different level.
    Very well explained on a very important topic.

  5. Tarang

    Great Blog Kritikaji! Actually we all Indians know this but it’s great to be reminded so that we can become more conscious! Thx a lot for doing this once again ! Keep blogging 🙏😘

  6. Vandana chand

    Awesome Blog Krithika. Though we all know that we don’t practice due to embarrassment & other social issues. I will have my kids read this amazing article. Thank you so much for your time & effort on giving us this awareness.
    Spread the Love, light & Laughter
    In Gratitude
    Vandana ❤️

  7. Sudesh khurana

    That’s really wonderful idea from Your side. There is no doubt that eating with hand make food more healthy and tasty. This ancient vision need to spread at least in India and your post is rightful step in this direction. Keep going…

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