Hara Hachi Bu. Three short words that can have a big impact on your health. In rough translation, they mean ‘eat until you are eight parts full’.
In other words, do not leave the table groaning with pain because you’ve crammed in everything on your plate, get up when you’ve got room for more (top tip, if you eat mindfully and pay attention to the taste of each bite you take in this is normally just about when the food starts to taste boring).
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Why Hara Hachi Bu is Good For You
Hara Hachi Bu is said to be one of the reasons why the inhabitants of the Japanese island Okinawa live so long: practicing it not only helps keep weight down as you consume fewer calories than you would if you’d eaten the entire plateful of food, there’s now emerging theories that going a little bit hungry – particularly leaving a long gap of say 13-16 hours between your last meal of the evening and the first of the next day – also triggers a cascade of hormones that may protect against diseases like cancer.
It’s also been shown that taking a long break between eating your last meal of the day and the first the next day gives the microbiome (gut bacteria) of the body a rest from digesting food. When this happens it gives those bugs a chance to carry out some of their other jobs like fighting low-grade inflammation – and the less of this you have the better.
If you want to read more about Hari Hachi Bu and how it, and other unique elements of lifestyle in Japan (and other long living countries around the world), check out Dan Beuttner’s Blue Zone books. which explain all about it.
How to Stick to It
Personally, I’m not very good at Hara Hachi Bu; I find it really hard to watch food going to waste. And as the only three words I know that actually form a sentence in Japanese are ‘ni nama biru’ – which means two draft beers which probably isn’t going to help me achieve it. (I also know how to say please, thank you, hello – and both the word and characters for intestines – I figure that’ll get me round). Maybe I need one of those natty blue Hara Hachi Bu bracelets above to remind me to practise it….
In fact, when I first wrote this piece, you could buy them, but when I updated it recently I found that they were no longer available which is a shame. But I did find this one available which is a bit prettier.
Or you could just make your own for a fraction of the price with a few alphabet beads and some string. You can buy kits containing these for just a few dollars/pounds on Amazon in black and white or colours – click here to check out the full selection. You could…not me, it would end in a craft related disaster of Pinterest Fail proportions if I tried it!
Wearing a wristband to help keep you motivated is a well-known tactic in habit breaking – the idea is that seeing the wristband acts as an internal jog to your memory that this is a habit you want to keep up. So, go on, why not get crafty today.