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Over the last year, I have shared a lot about my culture — the do’s, the don’ts and what I grew up with! It’s been such a treat to relive those memories through what I write. Today is also one such blog wherein I share why Indians at large eat with hands instead of using cutlery. The only time I remember using spoons/forks is when I eat at somebody else’s place who isn’t used to eating with hands or at parties. And truth to be told, whenever I have used cutlery to eat my food, I never feel fully satiated. It figures because during my research, I did come across an article that said eating with hands makes you feel full!

Now that I have spent more than 2 years in the U.S, I realized cutlery are a part of the eating routine here and I didn’t mind following the more acceptable dining protocol (I still eat my fries, pizzas and nachos with hands though, in case anyone’s wondering!). But all my homemade meals are eaten Indian style, sitting down and using my hands.

According to Vedas (Religious Hindu scripture), eating with hands has got a lot to do with activating our digestive enzymes. Each finger represents an earth element — Index finger: Air, Middle finger: Fire, Ring finger: Water, Pinky finger: Earth and the Thumb: Space. So, collectively these elements are activated to aid in better digestion and health. Feeling our food signals our stomach that we are ready to eat and makes us more aware of the textures, aroma & taste.

Eating with hands is also a perfect way to portion control, there’s only so much food your fingers can hold and while doing so, you are much more aware of what you are eating and it makes you eat slower. Our fingertips also contain a good bacteria known as normal flora, this is also consumed while you eat with hands. It is known to cure digestive troubles!

The whole idea of mindful eating stemmed from the fact that our lives have gotten extremely busy. To an extent that, people are left to recall what they had for lunch when asked! Being completely aware of what you are eating, how it is tasting, relishing each morsel makes the food ‘stick’ (a phrase that I am totally translating from my mother tongue Tamil. We believe that it is important for one to enjoy the food one is eating for it to fully absorb or ‘stick’ to one’s body!).

Eating with hand is also a cleaner way to eat apparently, you wash your hands multiple times a day not your utensils. In India, you will see seasoned cooks not using any measuring cups or spoons while cooking. They will eyeball it and use their hands to add ingredients, I was told feeling the ingredients with your hands makes you more present while cooking for others. You transfer that vibe into your dishes and it helps with the overall well-being of the family!

So, next time if you think a dish can be had with hands, go for it! I agree, it will take some getting used to, it will feel messy and you will 100% reach for a spoon in your drawer but give this practice a go? I would love to know your thoughts!

Madhu Narayan
Mondays with Madhu
Guest blogger, Plant Life Meals