Eating with your hands. Indian Ritual or Science?

by Yatin Singal
September 30, 2019

Sometimes you may think about why Indians eat with their fingers?

In India, particularly in the South of India, people are eating with their hands. This practice is coming from the Ayurvedic teachings. In Ayurveda, it is believe that our body is sync with the elements of the nature. For our hands, each finger is an extension of one of the five elements as shown in the picture. Hence, eating with one’s fingers stimulates these five elements and helps in bringing forth digestive juices in the stomach.   

 

Eating with hands creates a spiritual and physical connection with the food and helps being more conscious of the food you eat as well as being present in the moment. By touching food with fingers, the attention is automatically on the temperature, the textures and the colors of the meal.

 

Health benefits of eating with your hands :

  1. Better Digestion: Eating with our hands helps in improving our digestion because our hands have some good bacteria named "Normal Flora" generally found on palms and fingers which protect us from various body parts like throat, mouth, and intestine. 
  2. Avoid Over Eating: When we eat with our hands, we generally eat slower rather than eating with cutlery which helps you to avoid eating too much. Studies prove that people with Type 2 diabetes tend to eat faster than others which causes an imbalance of blood sugar in our body. So eating with our hands makes us to eat slower which helps in the prevention of the diseases.
  3. Promotes hygiene: Before you use your fingers to eat, you wash them and you wash them again once you are done - that's twice per meal. Eating with hands promotes frequent hand washing that helps in maintaining hygiene. 

With all those positive aspects of eating with hands, I guess you are now feeling like trying yourself? But it is not as easy as it looks like! There is a special technique! In the south of India, it is considered disrespectful to let the palm and the outside of the fingers get dirty. Hence, you can only use the tips of your finger to pick up the food. 

 

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