A few years ago I spent 7 weeks living and studying Ayurveda and Yoga in the jungles of Bali. Our meals consisted of kitchari and greens. Occasionally we also ate fruit. You would think this kind of diet would get tiring and that I would have been plagued by cravings. But the opposite is true. Not only was I supremely satisfied after eating, but I looked forward to and thoroughly enjoyed each meal.
Recently I decided to cook kitchari and greens and create a mini-Bali experience for a week. But after one day of eating this way I was bored. Upon finishing a bowl of kitchari, I found myself craving something sweet. The recipes were the same. So why was my experience different?
That evening I watched “Today’s Special” – a feel-good foodie comedy about a young chef who reconnects with his heritage and passion for life.
At one point in the movie, the young chef is being reintroduced to a real Indian meal in which everyone is eating with fingers instead of forks and knives. He is visibly bothered by what he considers uncouth manners – at which point his wise teacher says: “Eating with utensils is like making love through an interpreter.”
BOOM! That’s it!! That’s the missing piece to my kitchari-eating experience.
Suddenly I flashed back to the dinner table in Bali. We always ate with our fingers! In fact, our teacher told us that the fingers communicate what kind of food is getting ready to enter the mouth – which is a preparatory step in healthy digestion. I used to experiment by closing my eyes and watching my body’s reaction to the food I would touch. When I touched the ginger turmeric condiment that was in my kitchari, for example, my mouth would instantly begin to water!
If you’ve read any of the research on mindfulness or pleasure this all makes sense. So there you have it. The missing link that improves digestion and decreases cravings: ignore what your mother told you and play with your food. (TWEET IT)
I’d love to hear from you. Do you ever eat with your fingers? What sensations does it bring up for you? Let’s chat about it in the comments below!
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