Eating with your Hands
Don’t play with your food!! How many of us grew up with our parents teling us that.
It is really interesting that most all refinements of culture in the West are not in any direction of health and understanding of the function of the body but rather in control or separation of the bodies natural functional health.
Indian culture there is an old saying that,
” eating food with your hands feeds not only the body but also the mind and the spirit”.
It is looked at as unhygienic to use your hands to eat in America. You don’t know where those hands have been. Where did that come from? From our incredible fear of germs and bacteria set upon us by western medicine?
They eat with their hands in India, China, South America and most places throughout the world, don’t they? Hasn’t this gone on for centuries? If it is so unhygienic then why is America the most diseased country in the world?
Within many Indian households nowadays, the practice of eating food with the hands has been replaced with the use of cutlery. Our American ways have spread throughout the world and most cultures are losing their ancestral wisdom with the growth of globalization.
Have you ever thought of why previous generations in India ate with the hands? There is a reason for their this. The practice of eating with the hands originated within Ayurvedic teachings. The Vedic people knew the power held in the hand.
The ancient native tradition of eating food with the hands is derived from the mudra practice, which is prevalent in many aspects within Hinduism. Mudras are used during mediation and are very prominent within the many classical forms of dance, such as Bharatnatyam.
The hands are considered the most precious organ of action. This is linked to the Vedic prayer of
“Karagre vasate Laksmih karamule Sarasvati Karamadhye tu Govindah prabhate karadarsanam”
(On the tip of your fingers is Goddess Lakshmi, on the base of your fingers is Goddess Saraswati; in the middle of your fingers is Lord Govinda), which we recite whilst looking at our palms. Thus, this shloka suggests that all the divinity lies in human effort.
Our hands and feet are said to be the conduits of the five elements. The Ayurvedic texts teach that each finger is an extension of one of the five elements. Through the thumb comes space; through the forefinger, air; through the mid-finger, fire; through the ring finger, water and through the little finger it is earth. Each finger aids in the transformation of food, before it passes on to internal digestion. Gathering the fingertips as they touch the food stimulates the five elements and invites Agni to bring forth the digestive juices. As well as improving digestion the person becomes more conscious of the tastes, textures and smells of the foods they are eating, which all adds to the pleasure of eating. This is also not to mention the nerve endings in the fingers and how they stimulate digestion. The practice of eating with your hands also increases te relationshp with what you are eating. After all you realize what you eat turns into you. We tend to forget this. With this in mind why would you ever go to a loud restaurant and order something not fresh or healthy, then have to fight to have a conversation due to the noise in the restaurant. It has been proven that eating in silence increases the digestion as well.
From a nutritional point of view:
Everything we do to our food changes its subtle electrical reality, its electrical matrix and how it interfaces with our body. (Heistand and Coleman, 1999)
If we eat junk food, food that has been sprayed and preserved, food that has been flavored or frozen, these foods will have confusing energy that has been adulterated, and by eating these foods we will be developing faults in our network of energy. The results of such insults to over-eating and eating preserved foods are chronic fatigue, intestinal disorders, stomach ulcers, and so forth – all because of an electrically and chemically unstable stomach brought about by our improper ingestion of food or over-eating. In some religions like Islam, it has advised its followers to abstain from junk food (though the religion has not made these foods forbidden), sprayed and preserved foods, etc. – foods that are un-natural.
In India, elders in the family hardly ever use utensils to measure all the different type of masala, and would instead prefer to use their hands to measure the quantity instead. As each handful is tailored to provide a suitable amount for the own body. Overall there are 6 main documented forms that the hands take when obtaining a measurement a certain type of food ranging from solid food to seeds, and flour.
This is a prime example of how many things within Hindu culture may seem weird and unusual at first glance, but once a closer look is taken it is surprising, but a vast amount of knowledge is revealed. There is so much wisdom in the Vedic traditions. Unfortunately even India is throwing it away with their desire to have more and make more money. The old ways are being tossed aside for our Western way of superficiality and lack of depth in knowledge and internal or eternal wisdom and excess in materialism.
So why eat with your hands? …….
It’s totally natural. Eating with your hands is common in most parts of the world. Utensils are a man-made invention that not all cultures have warmed up to. Our hands are our utensils. It is actually unnatural to eat with utensils.
It improved digestion. Feeling your food is a tactile way of eating and your stomach get signaled as to what is being eaten. Your hands become an extension of the digestive system. Millions of nerve endings in your fingers relay the message that you’re about to eat, including the temperature of the food, level of spiciness, etc. to prep the stomach for digestion. Handling the food with your fingers releases digestive juices and enzymes.
It gives more awareness. Many experts have noted the importance of being relaxed and “present” at mealtime, not that this hasn’t been in various cultures for eons. But “now” it has been “proven” by western science that a calm, aware state allows optimum digestion and helps with not overeating. Eating with a fork and knife can become mechanical, done absentmindedly while watching TV. You’ll inevitably feel more connected with your food when you eat with your hands.
It engages all senses. The smell of your cooking fills your home. The feast looks appetizing. You hear how crunchy it is as you take that first bite. And of course it tastes delicious. But as far as feeling it, you’re limited to the textures you experience in your mouth. Again, eating with your hands adds a tactile dimension to your meal and engages all of your senses. Some people firmly believe that to completely enjoy your food, you simply must eat it with your fingers.
In Ghana, people are known to eat soup with their hands! As a tip, you may find it helpful to know that in countries where you eat with your hands, it’s almost without exception only the right hand that is used. This comes from the practicality of having a clean hand with which to server yourself and pass food to others. Interestingly, the left hand is generally considered too unclean to actually eat with. It’s actually quite amazing to watch how clean the process of eating with your hands can be.
So try it out. There is alot more out there in the world than what we know in our secluded Western lifestyles. Don’t be a well frog. Expand your view and expand your experience.