Practicing Hara Hachi Bu

Ever heard of Blue Zones? If you’ve read any of our CEO note newsletters, then you probably have! If you haven’t, these are the 5 areas in the world where a large number of the population reaches into 100 years of age. The blue zones are Okinawa, Loma Linda, Sardinia, Ikaria, and Nicoya. All of these blue zones have commonalities: close family ties, religion, active lifestyles, and they eat a healthy, mainly vegan diet.

In this blog, we will be focusing on another healthy practice of the Okinawan people. Hara Hachi Bu is the Confucian practice of eating until you are 80% full. According to Mayo Clinic, middle aged moderately active women only need 1500-1700 calories and men of the same category only need 1900-2150 calories per day. However American women on average consume 1750-1900 calories per day and American men consume 2500-2700 calories per day. The excess intake of calories by Americans leads to extra weight gain and the weight gain translates to a plethora of ailments that the Okinawans suffer from at a far lower rate than their American counterparts. Okinawans suffer 80% less cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. They also have 50% less dementia cases.

If we look at the calorie ranges Americans are eating vs the recommended ranges, if we reduce the consumption rates by 20-30% they would fall into the recommended range. So how do we do it? How do we teach our bodies to tell us when we’re 80% full rather than over stuffing ourselves until we can no longer take a single bite? Most of us were taught as children to “clean our plates” and were rewarded for doing so with *drum roll* more food! Dessert anyone? We have to learn to listen to our bodies. Here are some tips to jump start your new Hara Hachi Bu practice:

  1. Be mindful. When you’re eating, just eat. Be present and savor each bite. Don’t watch TV or do other distracting tastes that will take your attention away from your food and listening to your body’s cues.
  2. Eat slowly. Some professionals suggest starting with eating half of what you usually would then stop. Assess how you feel. Do you need more food or do you just want it? How will you feel if you eat a few more bites?
  3. Drink plenty! Sometimes you’re not actually hunger, but you’re actually thirsty! Another Japanese tradition is having green tea before your meal. This can help you to feel more full, and you’ll be less likely to over eat.
  4. Stop eating when you are no longer hungry, not when you are full. It’s important to relearn what being satisfied feels like.
  5. Use smaller plates and bowls! Studies have found that no matter what fad diet a person is on, if they serve themselves in bigger vessels, they will consume more food.

If you follow these simple steps with 20 or so meals in a row, you will successfully master Hara Hachi Bu. Confucius would be proud!

Need a little extra help? Just order Catered Fit. We will take care of the portion control for you 😉

Go to Top