Most Indians eat with their hands. But today as we adopt more traditions of the western world, it is common to see people using spoons and forks to eat. In the Vedic tradition, eating with ones hands is tied to the practice of hand mudras – or meditative gestures using the hands and other body parts. The hands are honored as a beautiful ‘organ of action.’ A famous Vedic sloka or verse suggests that divinity rests within human effort brought about through the hands.
These are the representations of the elements:
• Thumb: Fire
• Index finger: Air
• Middle finger: Heaven
• Ring finger: Earth
• Little finger: Water
The benefits of eating with your hands are:
1) Helps prevent type 2 diabetes
Eating with forks and spoons correlates with faster eating, which has been linked to blood-sugar imbalances in the body contributing to the development of type 2 diabetes.
2) Improved digestion
We have some bacteria, known as normal flora, found on the palm and fingers of the hand. It is not harmful to humans, it in fact protects us from many damaging microbes in the environment. When you eat with your hands, the flora in the fingers is swallowed. It is beneficial for health and for various body parts such as the mouth, throat, and intestine, and it promotes healthy digestion in the gut.
3) Useful tool in preventing binge eating
Binge eating is becoming a concern with more adults, but it can also occur in childhood. Binge eating seems to be related to the vicious cycle of restrictive dieting followed by a loss of control around food, and it contributes to further health problems. The study found that parents were able to help their 8 to 12-year-old overweight children cut down on binge eating episodes by training them to eat by hand.
4) It can help decrease overeating at restaurants
People worldwide spend about 40% of their food budget on dining out. These meals tend to be higher in overall calories, raising concern that this practice is increasing our national waistline. The researchers found that middle-aged women who ate out and used their hands to pick on appetizers and dry food entries at least three times a week were heedful while eating.
Indian food is traditionally served in a thali like a palette of flavors and textures which we can combine in various combinations and permutations and get a different experience every time!