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What do we gain by eating with our hands? (Op-Ed)

Even if cutlery has supplanted many culinary traditions, the skill of eating with one’s hands is alive and well in today’s society. While tradition and cultural importance are certainly important, exploring further reveals many advantages that go beyond just following the rules.

The adventure of the senses starts the moment your fingertips touch that very first mouthful. Feeling the smoothness of a taco or the softness of a burger bun brings you closer to the meal you’re eating. A more immersive meal experience, one that goes beyond the limits of traditional table manners, is set in motion by this tactile connection.

Eating with one’s hands is an integral part of many cultures’ traditions, from India’s streets to Mexico’s busy marketplaces. The fact that this technique is so popular over the world begs the question of why some people find it strange. I learned firsthand from my own experiences with banana leaf rice and other similar meals that the hands-on method makes us really appreciate the food, making us think about each texture and taste.

Beyond just appreciating the culture, there are several advantages to eating with our hands. Physiologically speaking, the action improves digestion and heightens our sense of smell. According to Ayurveda, an old Indian medical system, this technique has several benefits, including enhanced digestion and heightened sensory awareness. We may activate energy inside our body that promote balance and harmony by using each finger, which represents one of the five elements.

The idea that eating with our hands has real health advantages has some scientific backing. The simple act of using our fingers to break down food improves blood circulation, increases digestion, and activates muscles and enzymes. Additionally, practicing awareness via this tactile sensation might help in controlling portion sizes and encouraging better eating habits.

Views in the present day are changing, even if centuries of protocol have dictated otherwise. What was formerly seen as rude or obscene is today celebrated as a form of genuine expression and connection. Our understanding of proper table manners changes as society standards do. As a species, we want for genuine connection and sensory adventure, and the fact that we eat with our hands is a reflection of that in this individualistic society.

As a result, we can state that eating with one’s hands is more than just a custom; it’s a joy for the senses, a tribute to one’s cultural background, and an exercise in mindful dining. As we dive into this time-honored tradition, may we take the time to appreciate and cherish every mouthful, savoring the physical bond that unites us with our food and with one another. 

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