Despite daily usage, it's unlikely that you give much thought to your eating utensils.
Along with most of the Western world, Americans use the fork, knife and where applicable, the spoon. Perhaps you dabble with the spork, but those seem primarily relegated to elementary school cafeterias and random prepackaged plastic utensils.
Enter chopsticks. For those who did not grow up regularly using chopsticks (myself included), your first experience with them was likely at your family's favorite Asian restaurant and you probably reserved them 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...
Is it time to reconsider the chopstick?
And for reasons ranging from health to mindfulness, it’s time to consider them as your primary utensil.
Eating with chopsticks forces you to eat more slowly and mindfully, which often leads to feeling more satisfied with less food.
1) You can’t pile food onto a chopstick, at least with the same ease, as with a spoon or fork.
2) By default, each mouthful is smaller. (Consider, for example, the Italian way of eating pasta with a fork and spoon that facilitates a high volume of noodles.)
3) Smaller bites mean you consume the entire meal more slowly.
4) As it takes a bit of time for your brain 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 let's really get into the nitty-gritty of how you can make your food healthier just by changing the way you eat it...
When you eat more slowly, you also eat with greater intention, ultimately facilitating more deliberate, or mindful eating. Eating this way helps you to savor and appreciate your food. Each morsel receives its due attention. Often we scarf down our lunch while eyeing our to-do lists and scrolling through Instagram. Chopsticks require more of your attention, bringing you deeper into the present moment. Notice the weight of the food in your hands; this is your nourishment! Think of it like driving an automatic versus a manual vehicle. Like the pronged 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, making you aware that you’re immersed in the act of eating.
Slowing down and enjoying your eating experience aren’t the only benefits. Research shows that eating with chopsticks lowers the glycemic index of the food you consume, thanks to the way it makes you eat it. Because eating with chopsticks meant eating less at a time and eating more slowly, 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.
There’s also the notion that 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 handled as such!
So, for a week, why not try eating with chopsticks instead of the standard utensils? Buy your own to save on waste, and see how it goes.
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