Food is a big part of our lives and whereas we often find ourselves contemplating what to eat next, we rarely think about what utensils to use, and what utensils mean to us! Utensils are often overlooked. Along with most of the Western world, we use forks, knives, and spoons, and that is probably it.
But then come chopsticks. For those who did not grow up using chopsticks regularly, our first experience with them was likely at a family’s favourite Asian restaurant or during a trip away in Asia. Most of us probably reserve chopsticks for that cuisine, and that cuisine only. Yet, chopsticks date further back than the fork, and our ancestors were most certainly eating far more than sushi with them…
It is time to reconsider the use of chopsticks. For reasons ranging from health to mindfulness, it’s time we start considering them as our primary utensil. Why? Well, here is why…
Chopsticks make you eat more slowly and mindfully, which often leads to feeling more satisfied with less food. When eating with chopsticks, you can’t pile food with the same ease, as with a spoon or fork. By default, each mouthful is smaller and smaller bites mean you consume the entire meal more slowly. Since your brain needs time to signal to the rest of your body that you’re full, you likely find yourself fuller after having eaten less of the food on your plate.
But now let’s really get into the crux of the matter. How can you make your food healthier just by changing the way you eat it?
When you eat slowly, you eat with greater intent, ultimately facilitating more deliberate, or mindful eating. Slow eating helps you to savour and appreciate your food and each morsel of food receives its due attention. Often, we gobble down our lunch whilst eyeing our to-do lists and scrolling through social media. Chopsticks require your attention, making sure you are deeper engulfed into the present moment. Notice the weight of the food in your hands; this is your nourishment! You can compare it to driving an automatic versus a manual vehicle. Like the fork and its attendant knives and spoons, the automatic is engineered in such a way that its function takes care of itself. Chopsticks, on the other hand, make the eating process more active, ensuring that you’re immersed in the act of eating.
Slowing down and appreciating your eating experience aren’t the only benefits. Research shows that eating with chopsticks lowers the glycemic index of the food you consume. Eating with chopsticks means eating less at a time, the glycemic index of the food decreases. If you’re unfamiliar, glycemic index shows how quickly food causes your blood glucose levels to increase. The slower, the better.
Also, eating with chopsticks is, in a way, kinder to your food. You aren’t impaling it before putting it in your mouth. Is that the energy you want to impart on that which nourishes you? Eating can and should be meditative, something chopsticks facilitate. Our food is energy, love, and life force. It should be treated and handled as such!
So, for the next week, why not try eating with chopsticks instead of the usual utensils? You can buy your own, non-disposable chopsticks, to save on waste and see how it goes.