The Island of Okinawa is one of the poorer regions of Japan. However, it also boasts the highest average life expectancy on the planet, with a huge proportion of the population living to be 100 or more. One of the reasons for this is believed to be their principle of Hara Hachi Bu: eating until they are 80% full and no more.
People in Okinawa don’t just live to a very ripe old age. They also age gracefully. Many of them look much younger than they should and they retain much of their physical and mental capacities. In fact, the rate of heart disease and cancer mortality there is much lower than it is in the US and other Western countries. This may also be partly attributed to Hara Hachi Bu.
However, Hara Hachi Bu is not just good for your life expectancy. It can also be a weapon in the fight against excess weight. Let’s see why this is such a powerful concept and why you should incorporate it into your life.
The Origin and Meaning of Hara Hachi Bu
The origin of this term is attributed to Confusious and it literally means eating until you’re 8 times of out ten full. To this day, people in Okinawa live by this calorie restriction rule (although this may change due to Western influence). They eat a much lower average total amount of calories than Americans do.
It is unclear whether this term has broader meaning than the nutritional one. It can also be adapted to a general outlook on life. However, for the point of this post, I’ll only talk about the health and nutrition aspects of it.
Hara Hachi Bu Helps You Live Longer
One of the causes of aging is the damage done to our body by free radicals. These are chemical elements which damage our cells and DNA that are, to a large part, created by the process of digesting and metabolizing the food that we eat. Therefore, the more food you eat, the more free radicals you are likely to have in your system.
One of the ways to reduce the effect of free radicals is by eating more foods which are high in antioxidants which fight off free radical. Some examples include red wine and maqui berry. However, the best way is to reduce the amount of free radicals in your system in the first place. This is where Hara Hachi Bu is so powerful.
Since many of free radicals are created by metabolizing the food we eat, by reducing how much we eat in total, we also lower the amount of free radicals in our system. We simply turn down the dial on one of the leading causes of aging and disease. This helps you live longer and live healthier.
I Was Doing Hara Hachi Bu Without Even Knowing It
When I was trying to lose weight, I read that it takes the human body about 20 minutes to register that it has been fed. What this means is that when you eat, your body may still signal that it’s hungry even when you’ve eaten more than enough. One of the best ways to eat less calories is to stop eating when you’re just shy of being full. This was one of the things I did when trying to lose weight. And, it worked. Once you get used to it, you can eat much less and, in 15-20 minutes, you feel fully satiated.
I was actually implementing Hara Hachi Bu without even knowing it! How cool is that?
What I also found is that I no longer feel bloated after meals and I don’t get that tired feeling after lunch. My body is simply handling the food better since I’m not stuffing myself. This allows me to be more energetic and productive in my work.
Losing Weight By Eating 80%
Have no doubt, this can be a powerful weight loss weapon. Hara Hachi Bu is a great way to avoid overeating and to moderate the effects of emotional eating. You will be surprised by how easier weight loss becomes with such a natural calorie restriction. I believe that I lost weight as quickly as I did because I learned how to eat in moderation (fitness also helped, of course).
Remember, you need to work much harder to burn calories than you do in order to eat them. This is why your calorie total is the main thing which determines weight loss.
The people of Okinawa enjoy the longest life span on Earth. This has a number of reasons and one of them is their practice of Hara hachi bu. Eating until they’re 80% full helps them enjoy a healthier and higher quality life. It has the following benefits:
- Helps you to live longer.
- Reduces free radicals which reduces risk of various illnesses.
- Gives you more energy and productivity.
- Helps you to lose weight or avoid gaining it.
Image Credit: gcworld