Diet advice you won’t hear from your mother

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.

Deb with kitchari


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?



today's special

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!

PS:  My schedule is now open for 2016 Private Guidance Sessions.  Click here to book yours.

11 Comments on Diet advice you won’t hear from your mother

  1. Gloria
    January 13, 2016 at 9:00 pm (2 years ago)

    I love this article and I can so relate. When I lived in Honduras I became accustomed to eating my food with a piece of tortilla as the utensil. I have to say that to this day, on occasion, when it occurs to me to eat my beans and rice with a tortilla it always tastes better!! At the same time it brings back all sorts of wonderful emotions and experiences associated with it. I feel as if for a moment I am transported back to Honduras. I know I eat more slowly and I enjoy the food and the experience of eating more too! I haven’t done that for awhile, am so grateful for the reminder!

  2. Anitra Brown
    January 14, 2016 at 12:52 am (2 years ago)

    I love to eat with my fingers! Recently I was eating a salad (no dressing) with my fingers, and my younger sister corrected me (annoying). My mom said my grandmother loved to eat with her fingers, too. I find it to be…a more connected, sensual experience. Thanks for pointing out the pleasures of “finger food.”

  3. Betsy
    January 14, 2016 at 6:21 pm (2 years ago)

    Love this! I naturally eat with my fingers as much on my plate (or bowl) as possible and then – if I’m in a restaurant – finish the plate with a fork just to have good manners. So many times I’ve had waiters bring me a fork or spoon even though I have one because they see me eating with my fingers. I love the feel of my food going from my hands to my mouth!

  4. phaedra cucina
    January 15, 2016 at 1:48 pm (2 years ago)

    This past fall, I was lucky to have dinner at the Blind Café while it was in Austin. We ate in total darkness. While I first attempted to use utensils, it was frustrating and futile, so I definitely ended up using my fingers. Only the practicality of it allowed me to overcome what I would have thought was pretty gross. I wonder if I tried eating without utensils again, this time on purpose, if it would be a better experience. Hmmm….

  5. Sunny Markham
    January 16, 2016 at 12:45 am (2 years ago)

    I’m gonna try eating my gooshy muesli with my fingers tomorrow morning. So excited!
    Gratitude for this beautiful post, Deb. You look so happy in this pic with your kitchari!

  6. Sam Roth
    January 18, 2016 at 7:22 am (2 years ago)

    That must why pizza tastes so good as you eat it with your fingers!! If you would eat it with fork, I’m sure it wouldn’t taste as good. Interesting analogy!! Thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts!! Sam

  7. Dr. Deb
    February 25, 2016 at 10:37 am (2 years ago)

    Gooshy muesli! That’ll be fun 🙂

  8. Dr. Deb
    February 25, 2016 at 10:37 am (2 years ago)

    Exactly! 🙂

  9. Dr. Deb
    February 25, 2016 at 10:39 am (2 years ago)

    I love how this post transported you to Honduras. Here’s to pleasurable eating!

  10. Dr. Deb
    February 25, 2016 at 10:39 am (2 years ago)


  11. Dr. Deb
    February 25, 2016 at 10:40 am (2 years ago)


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