salad-471861_1280Are you curious to find out what “Hara Hachi Bu” is and how it can help you live well longer?

The term is used before meals by Okinawan elders, some of the healthiest and longest-living people on the planet. It’s a reminder to them to stop eating when they feel 80 percent full – pretty much the opposite of many of us who eat till we feel we might burst.

According to Blue Zones healthy ageing expert Dr Craig Willcox, restricting calories has been shown to prolong life in lab animals and is associated with better heart health in humans, by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. We’re also more likely to lose weight (probably a no-brainer!)

Restricting calories the Blue Zones way isn’t about going on a diet, although the type of food we eat is important. Most diets don’t work, at least not in the long run. It’s more about being mindful of what we’re eating, and how we go about it.

Most of us say “I’m full” at the end of a meal but an Okinawan says “I’m no longer hungry”. Think about the difference…

The size of our plates and glasses has an effect too; experiments have shown that we eat and drink more out of bigger containers and packages.

A lot of what we eat tends to be dense calories with little nutritional value. The typical Okinawan meal, such as stir-fried tofu and greens, has only about one fifth of the calories of our typical Western meal.

So, how can you bring some hara hachi bu into your life?

  1. Put leftovers away before you eat. It’ll help stop you going back for more, and you’ll have a second meal for the following day’s lunch or dinner.
  2. Add more veggies to your plate to make it look fuller. Most nutrition experts recommend that at least 50% of your plate is made up of veg.
  3. Use smaller plates. It won’t take long to get used to eating less without thinking about it.
  4. Go for smaller serves when you’re out – avoid the temptation to “upsize” at the movies, restaurants or cafes.
  5. Eat slowly and mindfully. Not only will you give your body time to send “I’ve eaten enough” signals, you’ll enjoy meals more because you savour each mouthful.
  6. Make eating a focus. Eating with family and friends is fine (it’s what Blue Zones communities do!) but turn off the TV and put away your phone.
  7. Sit down to eat instead of standing at the kitchen bench, in front of the fridge or on the run to a meeting. It’ll help you to eat more slowly and purposefully, and consume less.
  8. Eat your biggest meal earlier in the day: this isn’t an easy one for people who work, but some research shows that eating dinner early can help with weight control.
  9. Keep snacks out of sight, or don’t buy them: most people say that if they’re not in the house they can’t eat them. When you do, aim for healthier snacks but remember, you do still need to be mindful of how much you’re eating 😉
  10. Focus on more nutrient-rich meals. I’ll talk more about Blue Zones recommendations in the next newsletter.
  11. Finally, don’t beat yourself up if you overeat occasionally- life should be about enjoying not denying yourself!

If you would like help implementing some of these tips, or staying motivated and inspired to achieve your health and wellness goals get in touch.

Source: The Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer from the people who’ve lived the longest.