We seldom repent of having eaten too little.
— Thomas Jefferson
I’ve always been one to enjoy a great big meal. The feeling following a major food fest always seemed worthwhile for enjoying mass quantities of flavorful food.
Not so much anymore.
Hara Hachi Bunme
Or, “Hara hachi bu” (腹八分). The literal translation of this healthy Japanese saying means to eat until you’re 80 percent full, a common practice of the Okinawan diet. On the Japanese island of Okinawa, natives have practiced this for hundreds of years, and they are among healthiest, longest living people on the planet.
Another healthy lifestyle proverb throughout Japan and Korea recommends we “eat like a crane” which eats slowly and delicately, picking at its food deliberately so as not to damage its pointed bill. Perhaps this is where the ancient cultures learned the benefits of using chopsticks.
When we eat slowly and stop before we are full, we give our bodies a chance to digest our food completely and properly, signalling fullness before we have overeaten. As a Westerner who commonly eats too much too fast, this is proving to be a challenging task to master.
A lack of meat should not be compensated with huge helpings of whatever is for dinner. I have discovered it is still easy to overeat when going back for seconds of fried rice or tuna caserole. So it is without regret I say goodbye to my megameals of yore.
I now look forward to greater satisfaction from the food I eat based on a few simple rules.
- Eat until you are 80% full.
- Eat more healthy foods, primarily veggies (especially greens) and whole grains.
- Get necessary protein from tofu, fish and other legumes.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Stay active to burn extra calories.