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How Full is Full?

I'm guessing most of you love to eat as much as I do!  And, how many of you have a hard time putting down your forks when something is just sooo delicious?  I know I have a problem with this - food can be scrumptious and addictive.  On more than one occasion I know I've walked away from the table wishing I had eaten less.  I just feel stuffed and oftentimes regretful (not good!).

Did you know that there is an ancient practice embraced by the people of the Japanese island of Okinawa called "hara hachi bu"?  This is a style of eating where the Okinawans stop eating when they are 80% full..  The Okinawans approach meal time completely differently from most Americans.  We tend to eat until we are full - this feels normal to us - we want to make sure we have enough in our bellies to tide us over until the next meal.  The Okinawans on the other hand eat only until they no longer feel hungry. There is a big difference and impact on our overall health between these two styles of eating

Okinawans are some of the longest lived and healthiest people on the planet. This island is considered to be a "Blue Zone".  This was a term introduced through many years of extensive research led by Dan Beutner (working for National Geographic at the time).  He discovered that there were certain areas of the world that had the highest number of centenarians.  All of these specific areas of the world had certain things in common that contributed to them having a large proportion of healthy and active men and women approaching age 100 and beyond. One commonality was that they eat less calories overall.  It's really important to note that they do NOT count or track their calories, but practice a more intuitive style of eating.

Benefits of "Hara Hachi Bu"

  • Weight Management - you will eat less calories by default.

  • Fewer Gastrointestinal Issues/Acid Reflux

  • Anti-Aging - when we overeat our body has a lot to digest and this process takes a long time which can lead to oxidative stress and cellular damage speeding up the aging process

  • Less Chronic Disease

Tips for Practicing "Hara Hachi Bu"

  • Pay attention to your hunger cues

  • Leave a little behind on your plate  - save the leftovers

  • Eat slowly - chew more than you think you should and put your fork down between bites

  • Focus on food - turn off the tv/computer

  • Use smaller plates/bowls

  • Serve food from the kitchen rather than at the table - you'll be less likely to go for seconds

  • Don't focus on calories. Instead fill your plate with colorful veggies and nutrient dense, whole foods

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