We, as a general population, are always trying a wide range of techniques to drop excess weight. There is one technique, which once mastered, is very effective.
This idea is one of the best tips I ever learned, whilst room mating with a Japanese girl, Mari, and it is only eat until 80 percent full. So simple right? Yet so effective when practiced regularly and loyally adopted.
It makes sense to take a tip from our friends in Japan, particularly the Okinawans, because they start each of their meals with the Confucian inspired adage of “hara hachi bu”, which reminds them to stop eating at 80 percent full. The reason we should pay extra attention to the Okinawan philosophy is because Okinawa is one of the healthiest places on the planet and has a higher percentage of centenarians than anywhere else in the world.
I believe the secret to eating in moderation in the long run is emulating this practice with mindfulness and awareness, until it becomes automatic. There is a significant calorie gap between when an American (or Aussie) says ‘I’m full’ and an Okinawan says, ‘I’m no longer hungry’ or ‘I feel satisfied’.
In my mind, the key to being able to do this successfully is reassuring ourselves that if, by chance, we find ourselves starving two hours later, we can choose to eat again if we really need to. It may be that we put some food from the meal aside, with the view to eating it if we need to later on. This is why I love the concept of the ‘doggy bag’ in restaurants.
Since the portions are very generous in America, requesting a doggy bag is a helpful way to practice ‘hara hachi bu’.
Whilst living in Paris, I found that the French also have a good grasp of when they’ve had enough to eat, and most French people I know naturally stop eating at the 80 percent mark. By doing this, we don’t stretch out our stomachs out (because stomachs do naturally stretch like balloons, to accommodate more food).
Furthermore, by not stuffing ourselves to the brim and potentially feeling bloated or suffering from indigestion, we remain in the ‘pleasure zone’ with eating. Feeling good after we eat is the main aim. When we feel good, we digest better (and sleep better too!).
Simple changes in everyday eating habits can help put the philosophy of ‘hara hachi bu’ into practice for improved health and pleasurable weight management.
Eat slower, because eating fast results in eating more, sometimes without even tasting the food. Focus on the food, and when eating, just eat. Try using smaller plates, bowls and glasses because by doing so, we are likely to consume less without even thinking about it or feeling deprived.
Anyone, with awareness, can make changes to their eating patterns or environment, enjoy food way more and never feel stuffed like a turkey again. Here’s to hara hachi bu.
G'day. Welcome to my blog, where I write about mindful eating. My name is Sally Asher and I'm a wellness author of three books. I hold a Health Science degree and have a passion for behavioral change. I live between South Florida and Melbourne with my husband and two teenagers. My husband and I run a real estate investment company. I love to help people eat mindfully and reconnect with the innate, intuitive sense of eating that we are all born with.