Do you like eating your food with your bare hands? I am pretty sure you'd agree that the food tastes better when eaten with bare hands rather than using cutlery.
Eating with your bare hands is almost a norm in most of the countries in South-East Asia like Malaysia, Indonesia, India, and Sri Lanka, so much so that eating food with a fork and knife is deemed disrespectful. Also, my apologies to the lefties because eating food with your left hand is considered unhygienic and insulting in India. Since ancient times, the oldest civilizations like Greek, Egypt, and Indus Valley practiced eating with hands. In Africa, they place two bowls of water along with the food in front of them. One bowl to wash hands before having the meal and another to wash hands after having the meal. While in the middle east, the food is scooped either with hands or with pita bread from the standard plate. Most of the American cuisines also need to be eaten with hands.
This culture of eating with hands might seem weird to westerners, but once they try this out, they would never go back to eating with cutlery because it’s believed that the food tastes better with hands. But beware, a study published in the Journal of Retailing states that eating food with your bare hands makes it taste better and makes you eat more food, compared to eating food with cutlery, which can also lead to obesity if not kept in check.
What Does the Research Say About it ?
“Our results indicate that the people who routinely control their food consumption, direct touch with the food triggers an enhanced sensory response, making the food more appealing and desirable,” said Adriana Madzharov, a US-based study researcher from Stevens Institute of Technology.
According to food scientists, When a person touches a food physically, it enhances sensory perceptions of their brain. This means that even before the person puts the food in their mouth, it physically tricks the brain into thinking that it is more delicious. The taste of the same food item may vary depending on the method through which it is eaten. However, according to Adriana’s study, these effects of eating food with bare hands were only found in people who usually restrict their diet, in contrast to those who eat what they want. The latter did not report any enhancement in the taste even if they touched the food with their hands before having it.
Benefits of Eating Food With Hands
As mentioned in the Indian Vedas, our hands are one of the most precious organs of action. The scriptures reveal that every finger in our hand represents one of the Five elements. Thumb represents space, the forefinger represents air, the ring finer is water, the middle finger is fire, and the little finger is earth. So when a person attempts to eat with his/her hands, all of the five elements get stimulated, which bring forth the digestive juices in the stomach. The nerve endings on our fingers stimulate digestion, although it’s not proved scientifically.
Contrary to popular belief eating with bare hands is healthier and more hygienic than using cutlery. Talking about the benefits of eating food with bare hands, it helps in managing the problems related to digestion. According to “The Tribune”, there’s a good bacteria named “Flora” present on the human hands. It protects us from harmful microbes present in our surroundings. Flora gets absorbed in the food when we eat with our bare hands. It is very beneficial for the overall body, including the intestine, throat, gut, and mouth. Apart from this, eating with hands also helps prevent diseases like type 2-diabetes. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that people with this disease are more likely to be fast eaters who eat with cutlery instead of hands. Eating with spoons and forks is correlated with fast eating. This contributes to blood-sugar imbalances in the body, which leads to type -2 diabetes.
However, eating food with your hands is not as easy as it seems. It needs skills and techniques to use your hands to scoop up gravies, sauces, solid or semi-solid food. It requires grace and patience to use this technique effectively, keeping in mind all the unsaid rules of eating food with bare hands.