Hara Hachi Bu

Today NPR aired a piece about how overeating can impair body function. Turns out that not only does overeating impair digestion and make you feel uncomfortable, it can actually change your biochemistry.  Sleep cycles, fat metabolism, blood sugar regulation and satiety signals can all be affected in a negative way.

In a 2005 National Geographic article, funded in part by the U.S. National Institute on Aging, scientists  focused on several regions in the world where people live significantly longer.  On the islands of Okinawa, Japan, a team examined a group that is among the longest lived on Earth.  The Okinawans claim that one of their secrets to success is “hari hachi bu” which translates to “eat until you are only 8/10 full.  The Okinawans produce a high-rate of centenarians, suffer a fraction of the diseases that commonly kill people in other parts of the developed world, and enjoy more healthy years of life.

The 1950’s “finish your plate” rule we give to children (and ourselves) may need to be replaced by these three Japanese words.  It is said that the pleasure of great food actually subsides after the first few bites anyway.   Would buying smaller dinner plates help? Ordering appetizers instead of entrees?

7 thoughts on “Hara Hachi Bu

  1. Hi Cynthia,

    This is a great post. I’ve heard of this before and try my best not to overeat. Somethings I find that help with that are eating more slowly and mindfully. Have you ever closed your eyes, put a piece of fruit (or anything really) in your mouth, and just allowed it to to stay there for a couple of second before you begin chewing? You probably have, but wow the things I will notice are amazing. Sometimes I’ll put my fork down between bites too. I notice that if I am in front of the TV or not paying attention to eating and myself, then it is much easier to overeat. I’ve heard that it takes a half an hour before your body sends satiety signals to your brain, so it definitely takes a few times to get used to how our bodies work. I definitely feel better when I eat like this and I don’t feel that gross overstuffed feeling. THanks for this post. Enjoy your evening! 🙂 Si

  2. I’ve found that it works to eat at my toddler’s pace. I don’t exactly condone playing with your food, but here are a few lessons I’ve learned from my son:
    1) Examine each food carefully as it is presented to you. Take notice of shape, color, and texture with your eyes first.
    2) Take each fork(or spoon!)ful into your mouth and let it sit for a bit. Mash it along the roof of your mouth to figure out the texture. Chew it then store it in your cheek for a second or two to see how much more chewing you need to do. Really grind it down into mush before swallowing.
    3) Allow yourself to make satisfied noises as you chew and enjoy the flavors.
    4) Talk to your tablemates between bites, feel free to share your joy of the food in front of you.
    5) Drink a good amount of liquid after every 3-4 bites to cleanse your palate.
    and finally
    6) When you are full, do not let anymore food anywhere near your mouth. Clamp your mouth shut and refuse anymore.


  3. And SPEAKING of NPR, I heard you on KUOW yesterday afternoon and have been looking for the skasha (sp?) recipe since. I can’t find it. Can you help?
    Thanks for the turn on to your site!

  4. Hi Eileen,
    Check out the menus page at the top of our home page. It has all of the links to the food I talked about on KUOW.

  5. I remember reading something about them recently. People say they’re a food that actually takes more calories to digest them than what you get out of them?. . Is my memory serving me correct to what I read? (Providing what I read is correct?) Are they healthy to eat? What foods are they exactly?.

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