Said to originate in confucian teaching, this Japanese phrase or it’s unabbreviated version “Hara hachi bun me” means literally “stomach 8 parts” (out of ten).
Science and common sense facts:
- To make it to confucian teaching it means it was observed as something beneficial for centuries and more.
- Hara Hachibu was researched to be practiced by the centenarians in Okinawa, Japan. Among other healthy habits. (Note, there are no miracle sole habits rather than miracle being the combined effect of multiple healthy habits. HC bias - that’s what health coaching is based on;)
- Confirmed by lab studies calorie restriction has many health benefits for mammals. Instead of listing them I will say it simply - by not having our body overwork it will be less tired, less stressed, less “used”. That’s why you can hear calorie restriction promotes stronger immune system that leads to lower occurrence or easier combating of disease, slowing down aging or e.g. improvement of sleep (body can rest instead of doing the hard job of digesting at night).
- Scientists believe that by the time the message of fullness reaches our brain to tell us to stop eating, about 20 minutes has passed. Based upon this premise, if we eat until we feel full, we practically overeat at every meal. This was possibly a survival mechanism to hoard on nutrition and calories in times of plenty to survive times of famines.
*Yes, naturally it can lead to losing unwanted weight. I am singling this benefit out because of the market demand. However I like to think of fixing weight rather as an unavoidable side effect of positive dietary and lifestyle changes.
What to do if you want to adopt this healthy habit. Practically.
- You could self-consciously impose this on yourself at every meal. Saying “Hara hachibu” before you eat, just like the Okinawans do. And follow through. However. This is sustainable if you eat a balanced diet and your body is getting enough nutrients and not processing a whole bunch of crap.
- If you know there is room to improve your eating, just cutting back on your meal will probably not be sustainable over long time. It will be very hard restricting yourself in this way, perhaps feel like a fight, creating stress - you don’t want that. You want it to feel good!
- So, the secret is to increase your nutritional intake while simultaneously decreasing the calories. Which means you are basically going to change your diet! One easy way to do so is to take the less nutritious part of your meal away and add more nutritious stuff in (such as vegetables, ideally non-starchy, not exactly more potatoes). Slowly, as your body will be getting enough nutrition you will get away with eating less, easy peasy.
Just try it yourself and see if it feels good. Let me know below. Continue switching towards more vegetables as you age and let’s dance at our 100th birthday celebration some 60 years from now. I vote for salsa.
My HC proposal- if you just don’t know where to start and need a buddy on the way to healthier living, connect with me! I boldly promise solutions, support and fun along the way;)