These words translated mean ‘Eat until you are only 80% full’ and come from the Okinawan people. They are the longest living, healthiest people on the planet and they practice hara hachi bu. This is the second of my healthy eating aspirations.
The indigenous Okinawa islanders are situated at the southern tip of Japan in the Pacific Ocean. These people here have the longest life expectancy than anywhere else on the planet! Okinawa has a population of one million and of those 900 are centenarians, this is four times higher than the average in Britain or America. Australians have a life expectancy of 82 years and Indonesians 72.7.
It makes sense to me that I eat until I am 80% full so that my stomach has the room to digest my food and it also gives my brain time to catch up. Our brains are 10-20 minutes behind our stomachs so it usually turns out that when you think you’re 80% full, you’re actually full. Some research helps us to understand.
Huffington Post wrote –
A registered dietician, Susan Dopart suggests eating just half of what you normally eat and then checking in to see how you feel. According to Ms. Dopart, once we begin to feel any stomach pressure we are at the “80 percent full” stage. She also tells her clients to eat until they are no longer hungry, instead of eating until they are full.
And Bradley J. Willcox, M.D., a Hawaii-based expert in geriatric medicine and co-investigator of the Okinawa Centenarian Study wrote –
When food enters your stomach, the internal stretch receptors help relay a message to your brain telling it you’re full. But this is no instant message—it takes 20 minutes to arrive. “You actually feel fuller 20 minutes after you put down your fork,” says Dr. Willcox. That means if you eat till you’re 100 percent full at the dinner table, you go over capacity at each meal. Worse, because your stomach stretches every time you do this, you’ll gradually have to eat more and more to feel satisfied.
So what does the 80% full mean for everyday life?
The 80/20 in practice
- Eat slowly and chew your food well to help digestion.
- Stop eating when you’re satisfied.
- Become familiar with the feeling of 80% full.
- You do not need to eat until your plate is empty but until you are satisfied.
- Reduce you plate size – my family eats off of side plates.
- Its ok to leave food on your plate – save it for tomorrow.
- Only eat desserts if you are not feeling satisfied – there really isn’t a separate “desserts sack”!!