You probably rarely take time out of your day to think about the eating utensils you use for every meal. Westerners will use forks, spoons, and knives; sometimes, they might use the occasional spork.
Personally, I also grew up using chopsticks. East Asians have been using chopsticks for over two millennia, but they have spread to many other parts of Asia including Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. I was encouraged to use them because they were a staple of Asian tradition and our ancestors, but I took for granted the benefits that using chopsticks would give me. Read on to find out why you might want to consider rethinking your go-to kitchen utensil.
1. You consume your meal more slowly.
Because of the nature of chopsticks, you can't pick up as much food in one bite as you could with a fork or spoon. Naturally, you eat your food in smaller bites and more slowly altogether. While I know not everyone likes to eat food this way, it's proven to be healthier. When you eat slowly, it leads to better digestion, weight loss, and hydration. And why not spend more time with the person you're eating with?
2. There are other health benefits, too.
Research shows that using chopsticks lowers the glycemic index of the food that you eat. After consuming a meal containing carbohydrates, a person's blood glucose levels briefly increase before reverting back to normal, and the glycemic index (GI) measures these changes in blood sugar levels. Choosing low GI foods can benefit those with diabetes or the desire to lose weight. Furthermore, using chopsticks even provides coordination training, which is helpful for kids, those with brain damage, or someone who is trying to regain use of their limbs.
3. They are easily stored and washed.
In my utensil drawer at home, my family can probably store 20 pairs of chopsticks in the same space that stores 5 forks or spoons. In a restaurant that has hundreds of utensils, it would save a great deal of storage space if chopsticks were used. Because of their lower surface area, it also is easier to wash chopsticks compared to forks, spoons, or knives.
Chopsticks are more economically efficient.
If households and restaurants invest in more chopsticks, there would be less of a need for forks and spoons. Obviously, people would need soup spoons, but chopsticks could still be used in place of most forks and spoons. Using reusable chopsticks instead of wooden, disposable ones would not only save additional money, but also benefit the environment.
Your food becomes more satisfying.
When you eat your food more slowly and in smaller bites, you savor your meals more. You are more mindful of each bite, and you enjoy food for its taste as opposed to thinking of it as something that fills up your stomach. You definitely don't have to do this for every meal, but it's good to do from time to time.
Now, I'm not saying that chopsticks should be implemented into households and restaurants without caution. In 2006, China imposed a chopstick tax in an attempt to cut down deforestation as a result of chopstick production. Just like the fact that people are bringing attention to the importance of metal straws over plastic straws, it is imperative that we start using reusable wooden, plastic, or metal chopsticks as well. Do your part by investing in a pair of reusable chopsticks that you can use the next time you order Chinese takeout.