Surprising Benefits of Eating with Your Hands
Drop that Fork!
Was never a phrase my mother ever used while I was growing up.
Modern day utensils meant manners, and eating with our hands did not. Luckily, as I grew older I realized there are many acceptable ways of passing up the old knife and fork. For example, tacos, and other delicious items off our hand helds menu. But let's talk a bit more about where this all came from.
For many people in India, Africa, Asia, or the Middle East, using a fork or other utensils to eat is unthinkable and can even be frowned upon. These traditions are starting to become more common throughout the United States, because there is belief that eating with the hands has several surprising benefits.
The tradition of eating food with the hands is called kamayan meaning “with hands.” Kamayan is an ancient tradition in many areas of the Middle East because there is belief that eating with the hands rather than utensils has its benefits. Ancient medicine from these origins explains that each finger has spiritual significance and their own "Vedic" elements. Under this theory, for example, the thumb finger connects to fire, the index finger connects to air, the middle finger connects to space, the ring finger connects to earth and the little finger connects to water.
Beyond ancient theories, improved digestion is one of the believed health benefits that can come from eating with hands. This is said because of the ingestion of “Normal Flora” that occurs. Normal Flora is bacteria found on the palms and fingers that protects the skin and body from harmful microbes in the environment. Ingesting this helps keep several areas of the body healthy and improve digestion. Eating with the hands can also prevent over-eating. This is because when we tend to eat slower without a fork, which improves digestion.
Before digging in, ensure your hands are sparkly-clean by washing with a gentle antibacterial soap. Some advanced taco eaters even opt to eat with one hand so that the second stays clean for drinking.