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?