Did you know that men and women in Japan live, on average, 4 to 6 years longer than Americans? And they have the largest population of centenarians in the world (people that live to be one hundred or older).
So what do the Japanese know that we don't? That's a good question. But the more important question is what they do that we don't.
There are a number of healthy habits responsible for the longevity of the Japanese people. One of the most salient is their eating habits.
First, they eat a diet rich in plants. They eat some meat and some fish, but mostly plants. They focus on whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes over processed foods. And it's not only what they eat, but how they eat.
Which brings me to the principle of Haru Hachi Bu. This is the idea that one should only eat until they are 80% full. It allows you to be mindful about what you are eating, eat at a slower pace, and ultimately eat fewer calories.
You do not need to eat to 100% satiety to live. In fact, you can live on a lot less than that. But over the years the Japanese have used the 80% metric to guide their eating habits. It's not about counting calories, dieting, or restricting any types of foods. Instead, it's about focusing on your body and how fullness is felt and communicated to your brain.
How To Implement Haru Hachi Bu
Americans have tried to implement some of the strategies of Haru Hachi Bu, but without the ideology. For example, you may have been told to eat with a smaller plate or bowl in order to consume less. It's a good technique, but it doesn't address the notion that we are supposed to eat until we are totally full.
Instead of eating until we are full, we should be aiming to eat until we are no longer hungry. It's an important difference. And adjusting plate size doesn't really require you to practice monitoring hunger and acting accordingly.
You can try to use this principle in your life and see how it makes you feel. Start by eliminating distractions when you're eating.
Don't watch TV, play on your phone, or drive your car while eating. Distractions like these make it very hard to accurately monitor your eating and hunger. (Obviously there are exceptions, but try not to make multi-task eating a regular occurrence).
The second strategy is to eat slower. Take a few moments in between each bite of food rather than shoveling it all into your mouth at once. This will allow the right amount of time for your stomach to tell your brain that you are 80% full and it's time to finish up the meal.
Haru Hachi Bu is not a revolutionary diet trend. But it will help you eat less and can help you lose weight when used properly. Give it a try during your next meal - stop at 80% and move on to another activity. See how it makes you feel.
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