Monday, January 04, 2021

Hara Hachi Bu 腹八分

Hara Hachi Bu (腹八分) is a Japanese proverb or saying that means eat until you are 80% full. In the Okinawa Program, they identified this as an Okinawan Proverb and I certainly can't contest that statement as I don't actually know if its origins were Japanese or Okinawan. In the end its origin is/was irrelevant but the fact that I read about it again recently in the Okinawa Program is helping me define one of my goals for this year. I am adding the practice of Hara Hachi Bu to my daily routine.

While this may not seem to be such a big deal, it has been for me. Even being exclusively vegan and mostly whole food plant based in the sense of avoidance of added salt and sugar and no extracted oils (olive oil etc) I still put on weight. Main reason being eatin more vegan but and less whole food plant based but also simply eating alot. Adding together of eating large volume of food that is also high calorie (aka vegan junk food) while my exercise routine took a nose dive is a sure fire recipe to put on weight.

There are a couple of aspects of the weight gain problem. The first is volume and the second is the timing of when I eat. So late last year I mentioned that I was going to give intermittent fasting a try. This is first and foremost an effort to eat earlier in the day so I am not eating a boatload of food just before bed. You can read more details of that in that post. The intermittent fasting probably helps with volume as well as you are eating one less meal per day and no snacks after say 4pm. That's great but in my case not sufficient.

The reason that is not sufficient is that I eat too much food in any one sitting to begin with. Add on the subtle thought process that I now need to eat so I don't get hungry over the next 12-16 hours mean I eat even more in one sitting. That's where the concept of Hara Hachi Bu comes in. We know, I specifically know because Julie Wise my nutritionist (I highly recommend her!) educated me on this in one of her Nourish Wisely Lunch and Learns, that it takes 15 or 20 minutes for the stomach to send the signal, or 15 minutes for the brain to register the signal, that it is full and has the brain put the appetite suppressors and the feeling full sensation out. So you could be completely full but because you are eating fast and furious you stomach hasn't had the chance to send the signal yet and I over eat. By using the Hara Hachi Bu rule, stop eating when you feel like you are 80% full. As a general rule that will ensure that you aren't over eating, but it also means you need to mindful and aware of how fast your are eating, etc. What I learned from Julie is to keep the mindset of if after waiting 15 or 20 minutes I still feel hungry then I can continue eating. That thinking present it as not a hard and fast rule that I'll naturally fight against, but a choice. Which of course it is.

In the end, the key is eating mindfully and being aware of being full or not which I normally don't do as I snarf it all down.

So along with the intermittent fasting, I'll be practicing Hara Hachi Bu as well.

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