5 Reasons Why You Should Eat With Your Hands

January 26, 2012

Photo by brianna.lehman

If something’s featured in the New York Times, you know it’s made it as a trend. In restaurants across North America, eating with your hands is not only gaining acceptance, it’s actually being encouraged. I’m certain that people from cultures where eating with your hands is the way of life must think we’re crazy for even considering this a “trend.” After all, what could be more natural, more primal? But of course, to the average North American, eating without utensils is novel, if not downright adventurous. Here are 5 reasons to get your hands dirty:


1) It’s primal

Eating with your hands is common in many parts of the world.Utensils are a man-made invention that not all cultures warmed up to. We’ve learned so much from our ancestors and various hunter-gatherer tribes about health and nutrition – could they be onto something here, too?

2) Improved digestion

Feeling your food is a like a heads-up to your stomach, signaling “Incoming!” 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.

3) Heightened awareness

Many experts have noted the importance of being relaxed and “present” at mealtime. 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.

4) 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. Or are you? 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.

5) It’s fun

Don’t kids just look so happy and carefree, eating with their hands? Live a little, try something new, have some fun :)

Getting Started

Many cultures that do eat with their hands tend to use rice or some form of bread to scoop stuff up. But don’t let that stop you. What’s more primal than eating steak or meatza with your hands? Besides, 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 (linked to going to the washroom).

It’s actually quite amazing to watch how clean the process of eating with your hands can be. People often only use their thumb and first two fingers, and don’t get food on their fingers above the first two segments. It’s pretty impressive.

Although observing the pros may be helpful, I would suggest that in the spirit of adventure, you don’t let all the details bog you down. After all, there’s something a little unsettling about imposing formal dining etiquette on eating with your hands, especially if you’re after the joy of the experience, rather than preparing for attending a formal cultural dinner. The only custom I’d strictly enforce is washing your hands, especially before :P  Other than that, just dig in :)

Have you tried eating with your hands? How did it go?

PrintFriendly and PDF

Leave a Comment

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

John Q Public February 27, 2012 at 4:21 PM

My cousin tried eating with his hands after reading your article and he got third degree burns after sticking his hand in a pot of hot soup!


Ummearqam September 14, 2012 at 4:24 AM

Well it’s bad to hear abt his burnt fingers but yes we r sometimes anxious and hungry , but his fingers burnt rather than the mucosal lining of his stomach and oesophagus!! Ppl who eat with hands r actually accustomed to the temp. Of food, and also how and what to eat comfortably with fingers, usually the thumb, index and middle fingers, if they do eat liquids, like thick ones, they use the ring finger too otherwise use a spoon, once in awhile it’s ok!!! Pls refer this to ur cousin, as Muslims acquire this as prophetic tradition. Happy meals!!!


Tia June 18, 2012 at 11:42 AM

I think it’s a mental thing when eating with your hands. Feeling it helps your body to know that you’re full. I googled this because I had to eat with my hands. I think I’ll try this for one full week!


admin@primalist June 18, 2012 at 8:48 PM

Eating with your hands would be a cool week-long challenge! Let me know how it goes :)


Ayel December 16, 2014 at 9:31 AM

Soup does not give third degree burns, and that was the stupidity of your cousin.

(If this story is even true, which I doubt, because you smell like a big fat sweaty troll.)

Ayel December 16, 2014 at 9:35 AM

Whoops, that was supposed to go to John Q. Public. Sorry!

I learned to eat with my hands when I lived in Mexico, and I have had a hard time going back to utensils ever since. I have found it to be a handy dieting tool, because when I reach for that second chicken breast, I automatically think about whether I am hungry for more, or if it just tastes good. I have also found it to be a good tool for slowing down the pace of my consumption, which is a HUGE factor in over-eating.

duttatarayan July 28, 2012 at 2:50 AM

@ John Q Public : well, at-least now he/she knows when the food is too hot for consumption :) , if you are still keen on having your food eaten with your fingers (not hands) then try to first let it cool down to a level where you can actually “dig in” , and as for soups its always better to use spoon lol , its really messy to “eat” soup with your fingers (not hands). Or if you can ,try asking your Asian friends on how to properly have your meal using your fingers (not hands) or google your way again :).


Adrien October 12, 2012 at 1:15 AM

This eating with the hands trend is a regression, like eating raw meat. The human civilisation made a huge step forward when it discovered that cooked meat is far better to eat than raw, eating with a knife and fork is another step forward.
How can we be so stupid to downgrade ourselves and take example from the less performing civilisations?
If eating with our hands is what it is required to be focused on what we eat instead of the TV, then it is a shame. People should take their act together and take the time to have proper lunch/dinners in family – eating with the hands is just a very bad solution to compensate the failures of our behaviour towards food.


admin@primalist October 13, 2012 at 9:39 AM

Interesting. My question to you would be what is so “very bad” or “so stupid” about it? It’s fine if you think it’s a silly idea and you’d rather use utensils. I use utensils 99% of the time myself, except on the odd occasion where I simply do feel the urge to eat with my hands. But I’m not opposed to the idea. I’m especially intrigued by the concept of it being linked to better digestion.

Mark llerena May 11, 2015 at 4:10 AM

A regression? Idk about that. I think that it would be a great step for us here in the west as we are very removed from reality/nature. Mama earth is going to hell in a hand basket. What better way to try and counter our pervasive conditioning than with a core necessity.

Pathik February 2, 2013 at 7:51 PM

I’ve always used my hands. I lift bowls of soup to my mouth and drink it. I tried using a fork, and found the action of impaling my food with it rather barbaric. Sometimes I use a spoon for ice-cream, but for things like rice and semi-liquid food I scoop with bread.


admin@primalist February 11, 2013 at 3:31 PM

Interesting perspective on the usage of utensils!


Chelsea August 9, 2013 at 7:46 PM

I’ve always eat with my hands, but I do use my left hand. I write with my right hand, but I also wear my watch on my right hand. I try not to do it too much in public because some people see it as unkempt, but I like what I like.


admin@primalist August 9, 2013 at 8:07 PM

I would imagine one would get strange looks eating out, especially in North America, as it’s quite uncommon here.


X September 17, 2013 at 6:41 AM

it is weird to see that many people might feel weird when they eat using their hands, i mean i eat with my bare hands for years and nothing bad happens and it really feels and tastes better when you use your hand while eating (of course you cant eat everything using your hand)


admin@primalist September 18, 2013 at 8:07 PM

It’s just a matter of not being used to it, everything new feels strange at first..


analytics-wiki.wmflabs.org July 16, 2014 at 3:11 PM

Either at the second article or on the following page will be the sales
letter that is exactly what they wanted. My favorite way of testing products is actually testing products.
So keep in mind that learning Internet marketing can be extremely deep, and don’t be surprised
if it overwhelms you.


thomasprosser July 19, 2014 at 11:55 PM

Hello, every time i used to check blog posts here in the
early hours in the morning, for the reason that i love to
find out more and more.


Colt 45 Télécharger July 20, 2014 at 10:05 PM

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I truly appreciate your
efforts and I will be waiting for your next post thanks once again.


Nichole July 21, 2014 at 4:32 AM

One particular of the smartest is Bicester Village with the likes of Cath Kidston, the White Company, Bodum,
Descamps, Molton Brown, Calvin Klein and Paul Smith at discount prices.
If you selected the corporation for the enterprise
prospect know it will consider time and function to build your clientele.

Sure, you might laugh at it and find it ridiculous, but
you sure won’t be butthurt about it.


http://www.devenirricherapidement.sitew.fr July 21, 2014 at 5:33 PM

I constantly spent my half an hour to read this weblog’s posts everyday along with a mug of coffee.


shutupdiy.com July 25, 2014 at 4:40 AM

It’s great that you are getting thoughts from this
paragraph as well as from our argument made here.


diet pills that drop weight fast July 27, 2014 at 2:45 PM

These issues, which as previously stated is a lifestyle change.

Consumption of green tea as the. If you are getting is licensed by the body from producing insulin? Well, none of
these be said that, for obese or best diet pills to make
you lose weight fast who feel overweight. Which brings us to the exercise element.


how to get rid of cellulte August 2, 2014 at 4:31 AM

Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your weblog?
My blog site is in the exact same niche as yours and my users would
definitely benefit from a lot of the information you present here.
Please let me know if this okay with you. Appreciate it!


Wilton August 6, 2014 at 11:51 PM

Do you mind if I quote a few of your articles as
long as I provide credit and sources back to your website?
My website is in the very same niche as yours and my visitors would truly benefit
from a lot of the information you present here. Please let me know if this ok with you.



job search in gold coast August 8, 2014 at 10:44 AM

You’re so cool! I do not think I have read through something like this before.
So good to find someone with a few unique thoughts on this topic.
Really.. thanks for starting this up. This web site is something that’s
needed on the web, someone with a little originality!


online dating for over 40 August 9, 2014 at 9:37 AM

You have lost your Partner and can’t accept another one as
a true. Also here you can do video chat with deep erotic taboos.

Most of the ad for the white people fairly run-of-the-mill personal ads, apart from insisting on Asia.


seniors meet seniors August 9, 2014 at 9:37 AM

However, the emotion never did leave that organ and over time it had weakened it to the point that
you notice a severe issue years later. Our Volunteers
implement them here for our animal’s enjoyment. Some experts claim that women receive more emotional support than men post-divorce.


www.deixismagazine.net August 9, 2014 at 7:50 PM

Thanks on your marvelous posting! I really enjoyed reading it,
you can be a great author. I will be sure to bookmark your blog and definitely
will come back someday. I want to encourage one to continue your great job, have a nice day!


minas.fm August 9, 2014 at 10:06 PM

Well, not every test woman. Most home testing kit to
kit. If the screening tests is usually followed by professional
and ultrasound tests in Vegas than Mankato, Minn.
Both tests are urine based pregnancy test. You will
need to know which ones aren’t. Those are some of the
uterus. Do not read the instructions are very sensitive pregnancy test.
It is not one hundred women who cannot afford hospital fees and home testing kit or at the Fabulous 99s shop in Crawley, West Sussex, where
the internet.


apple a1097, macbook air battery, Apple mac pro review, mackbook air, macbook air alternatives,compra y venta August 10, 2014 at 11:28 PM

Thunderbolt also provides 10 watts of power to peripherals, so
you can tackle workstation-class projects. At a distance from the high-finish 15″ macbook pro, Apple also provides 3 13″ types and
a a 60 minute 17″ device.


Lena October 23, 2014 at 4:07 PM

I occasionally eat with my hands, though I have absolutely no idea as to why….humph.


{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: