Roughly translated “hara hachi bu” is a Japanese adage to stop eating when your stomach is 80 percent full. (Getty Images)

Roughly translated “hara hachi bu” is a Japanese adage to stop eating when your stomach is 80 percent full. (Getty Images)

Four reasons you should try hara hachi bu in the new year

The Confucian-inspired adage is a reminder to stop eating when your stomach is 80 percent full.

What’s hara hachi bu, you ask?

No, it’s not a new food or a trendy spice. It’s a way of eating and enjoying food that originated in Japan.

And it seems to be working, because people live longer and healthier lives in Japan than any other place in the world. Roughly translated “hara hachi bu” is a Confucian-inspired adage to stop eating when your stomach is 80 percent full.

That’s right — don’t wait until you’re stuffed or uncomfortable — stop when you’re pleasantly satisfied. Why should you embrace this health-promoting habit in the new year? Here are four reasons.

You’ll feel fuller sooner. If we slow down our eating, we can actually train our minds to think differently and our stomachs to feel differently so we can be satisfied with less food. Eating slower means eating less, which means eating faster means eating more. Much more than our bodies need. If we eat slower, we are able to control portions better and eat consistently less calories, which helps us manage our weight more effectively and sustainably. That translates into less weight gain and staying at a certain weight more achievable in the long term.

You’ll tune in to your hunger cues. When we eat fast, we ignore what our brains are telling us and how we are feeling. We can miss the signs that our hunger has gone away. It takes time to get used to eating less. Eating until we are no longer hungry is different than eating until we are full. If we are feeling full, we have already eaten beyond the disappearance of hunger. Many people have never experienced what it is like to eat until 80 percent full. Focusing on how we are feeling as we are eating helps us to stop eating before we are full.

You’ll enjoy your food more. Practicing hara hachi bu allows us to enjoy our food more — it’s taste, texture, flavors. Eating food should be pleasurable and satisfying. When we focus on eating and how our food looks, tastes and feels in our mouths, as well as how we feel when we are done eating it, we experience more satisfaction from it. It makes overeating and binging less likely. It also gives us control over how much we eat and how we feel after!

You’ll have better digestion. Lastly, when we eat in the hara hachi bu style, we can prevent a host of digestive issues from occurring. Chewing more with each bite (until there is only a paste in your mouth) helps the digestive process get started on the right path. This necessary churning and pulverizing, mixed with saliva and digestive juices, helps prevent swallowing air and chunks of food that can cause bloating, reflux, burping, gas and stomach upset.

Mastering hara hachi bu may just be the trick you need to improve your health in the new year. Start this good habit now, and it could stick with you for the rest of your life — bringing more lasting health and enjoyment than any diet or resolution.

Disclaimer: This is for information only and not intended as personal medical advice.

Kim Larson is a registered dietitian nutritionist, certified health and wellness coach and founder of Total Health. Visit www.totalhealthrd.com or www.facebook.com/totalhealthnutrition for more.

Talk to us

More in Life

Live-stream concert to offer ‘fresh vibes’ during pandemic

Zimbabwean-American musician ZNi International’s show will benefit Work2BeWell, a mental health initiative.

New sculpture rises above Everett’s arboretum at Legion Park

“We Rise,” by Everett sculptor Constance Jones, honors Zonta Club of Everett’s 90 years of service to women.

Snohomish Historical Preservation Commission member Fred Cruger with his dog, Duffy, in Arlington along one of the history walk sections at Centennial Trail. The event will be up through September. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Discover local history as you walk the Centennial Trail

Take a smartphone quiz as you stroll the trail. If you answer every question correctly, you’ll win a prize.

Amid pandemic, seniors have second thoughts on where to live

Some decide against communal living in retirement communities, and commit to staying in their own homes as long as possible.

Lemon Mascarpone Layer Cake, photographed Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020. (Hillary Levin/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)
These 4 recipes will prevent the heartbreak of blah desserts

Each of them is decadent and well worth the calories, and they’ll all become your new favorites.

A man walks past a free flu shot advertisement outside of a drugstore on August 19, 2020 in New York. (Photo by BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)
Q&A: Who should get the flu vaccine, and when?

Flu shots won’t prevent COVID-19, but it’s still important for everybody to be vaccinated, doctors say.

How to find a healthy ‘normal’ during life’s transitions

Avoiding gaps in self-care requires planning and thoughtfulness. Here are some tips from a doctor.

Rosemary Fish Fillets with Lemon Garlic Pasta. (Linda Gassenheimer/TNS)
Lemon, garlic sauce, rosemary make flavorful fish dish

This recipe calls for mahi-mahi, but any type of firm white fish will work — snapper, tilapia or cod.

A course of traffic-cone slaloms is one way to help teens improve their driving skills. (Jennifer Bardsley)
Her teen is putting pedal to the metal for accident avoidance

She signed the new driver up for an advanced collision avoidance class taught by Defensive Driving School.

Most Read