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    Lesson Two – Hara Hachi Bu

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | April 25th, 2021

    Lesson Two – Hara Hachi Bu

    I remember in my younger days when I would eat until the point I literally could not get up. I would unfasten my belt and the first button of my pants and would just sit there. The food was so good, I just could not stop. Thank God, this mostly happened during the holiday celebrations. Clearly, I was not following the Confucian teaching – Hara hachi bu.

    Hara hachi bu is a Japanese term meaning ‘Eat until you are 80% full’.  In Dan Buettner’s book, Blue Zones, Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, he states the elders who live in Okinawa, Japan, take a moment before each meal to say hara hachi bu. It takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to tell the brain it is full – this can lead to overeating. By saying this phrase before the meal, it gives us time to pause and let the brain take the lead.

    How do you know when you are 80% full? It is probably at the time that you are starting to enjoy the food. You are no longer hungry. You are eating because the food is so good.

    Lesson 2 in creating our blue zone is hara hachi bu – painlessly cutting our calories by 20%. What does this look like in our homes?

    1. Be mindful of what surrounds you – whether we are at home or at work – if we see it, we will eat it. At home, I minimize what foods are around me. This is important because my work space at home is near the kitchen. Do not bring what you do not want to eat into your home.  At work, my desk only has my water bottle and occasionally a cup of tea.
    2. Do not get up for seconds – When I am doling out my food, I make a conscious effort to place what I need on the plate the first time. I used to have a habit of getting seconds. It was truly a habit. I have broken the habit by consciously saying to myself that I will not get up for seconds.
    3. Eat slowly – Digestion begins in our mouth. Take time to enjoy your food. Chew your food. If you are often the first one to finish your meal, you are probably going too fast. I find that when I take my time to eat my food and then I am the last one done, people are often ready for the next activity and there will be no time to get seconds.
    4. Buy smaller packages – I hate to say it but the system does not make it easy for us. I know the individual 100 calorie packages are often more expensive than buying a big bag of an item. RESIST-RESIST-RESIST. The extra calories will cost you more in the long run. If you still cannot get beyond the cost, dole out from the big bag and place in smaller bags based on the serving size. I promise you will eat more of an item if you eat from the larger bag.
    5. Focus on food – You will eat more if you are multitasking when eating. If you want to eat, then eat. If you want to watch television, watch television.

    The next time you are about to eat a meal say to yourself – hara hachi bu and see what happens.

    For those of you who missed last week’s bog, we are creating our blue zones based on the nine lessons outlined in Dan Buettner’s book. Below are the nine lessons and you can click on lesson one from last week.

    1. Move Naturally – Be active without having to think about it
    2. Hara Hachi Bu – painlessly cut calories by 20%
    3. Plant Slant – Avoid meat or processed foods
    4. Grapes of Life – Drink red wine (in moderation)
    5. Purpose Now – Take time to see the big picture
    6. Downshift – Take time to relieve stress
    7. Belong – Participate in a spiritual community
    8. Loved Ones First –   Make family a priority
    9. Right Tribe – Be surrounded by those who share the Blue Zone values

    FYI: If you are still hesitant about taking the COVID-19 vaccine and still have questions, there will be an AARP Virtual Coffee Shop Conversation: Let’s Talk Vaccine on Tuesday, April 27 at 7:00 pm EST. Please join me and Ms. Charleta Tavares in the conversation. You will need to register for event.

    3 Responses to “Lesson Two – Hara Hachi Bu”

    1. I personally can empathize with wanting to eat more because whatever you are eating tastes delicious. However, as I’ve matured, I have adopted a healthier mindset of consuming just enough food to feel satiated. I believe that that strong desire to overeat is stemming from a different kind of hunger that food necessarily can’t resolve.

      Thank you very much for this enlightening post.

    2. Good one- and good response Cleopatra:-)

    3. Chinyelu says:

      Thanks for sharing this, learning to sit and actually enjoy my food.

    Leave a Reply

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