How do you feel when the skirt you’re using recently doesn’t fit your waist suddenly?
You might say I shouldn’t overeat, or I’ll start my dieting tomorrow.
Now, these days there are so many ways, programs, and products regarding weight loss such as keto, intermittent fasting, paleo, and slimming products.
As you know, the belly and the stomach area is the most critical and problematic place in the issue of weight loss and how to have a flat belly as the majority of the Japanese people do. In Japan, it’s how they eat that makes them have a flat stomach.
Here are the practical ways that the Japanese do to maintain their health and well-being.
So what is the correct way to eat?
How to take control of the diet and optimize health and well-being in the long run? For years, I’ve been following a single rule that has been a staple value since I was in a diet that I have found is the only one that works for me. It’s not intermittent fasting, it’s not keto, and it’s not paleo. Not only has my single rule helped me lose weight, but it’s improved my mood, energy, and overall well-being. It’s something that I learned since I was living here in Japan, and the whole of Japan knows about it too. It’s called: Harahachi-Bunme
What is Harahachi-Bunme?
If you tell any Japanese person that this is a kind of diet, they’ll look at you in a very confusing way, and correct you that it’s not really. It’s a long-standing Japanese saying that directly translates to “8/10ths your
stomach,”; meaning, you should only eat until you are 80% full.
It follows elementary principles that it should not overindulge in food, and it should be modest about how much been eaten. Neither starving nor stuffing themselves; it supports the belief that extreme lifestyles are neither good for the body nor sustainable, and the key is finding balance and middle ground to satisfy the needs.
It’s a way of looking at food and hunger intuitively, with a focus on nourishment and health rather than results like weight-loss or physical benchmarks. These benchmarks tend to come naturally over time anyway because when you practice neither over-indulgent eating nor deprivation, your body will respond in a sustainable manner that will last you the rest of your life. You must trust that your body knows what it needs.
How to practice Harahachi-Bunme
Basic guidelines behind the principle
Eat when you are hungry.
- For some days, this means eating two meals. For other days, it means eating four. Days following an intense day of exercise may mean you eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and snacks in-between. For a day of travel and lots of idle sitting, it could mean just one large meal and many snacks throughout the day.
Eat whole, nutrient-dense foods.
- While not strictly in the saying, Hara Hachi-bun me only works when you are eating healthy, nutrient-dense foods. Your body can not accurately measure nourishment and hunger when you are consuming mostly empty calories from highly-processed foods. These empty calories lead to overeating because you are never able to reach the point of “80% full”. Focus on fruits, vegetables, proteins, and whole grains, and your stomach and brain will respond accordingly to your needs.
- By focusing on these kinds of foods, you will not only stop hunger pangs, but you will also lose the desire to eat mindlessly. Preventing overindulgence will not be a test of willpower, but will become a natural response.
Don’t worry about counting or measuring things — your body will know.
- Just eat fruits, vegetables, proteins, and whole grains.
- Is it that simple? Shouldn’t you think about the composition of your macros? How about how these foods are cooked? Should it be raw or boiled or baked or pan-fried? This over-excessive thinking is what leads to extreme diets. Our bodies are thoughtful and well-run machines, and there is no need to consider these details obsessively. Trust your body; it will respond appropriately.
- Tracking micro details won’t be sustainable in the long-run unless you enjoy dedicating mental energy to thinking about food in this sort of manner (and some people do!). For most of us, though, focus on consuming whole foods, limit your refined carbs, and your body will know the rest.
Stop when you’re 80% full.
- It is an essential part, as it guarantees how we develop a positive and sustainable relationship with food.
- There are no concrete rules to how you will know when you’re 80% full, but as a guideline, I like to eat slowly and wait at least 30 minutes after eating a full meal to determine how I feel. Everyone has different lifestyles and body compositions, so it may be challenging to determine what this looks and feels like at first. But be patient, feel in tune with what your body is telling you, and if it’s signaling hunger, eat. If it’s telling you nothing, don’t eat.
Get food off your mind.
- As you practice Hara Hachi-Bunme, the idea of food should fall to the back of your mind. Stop obsessing over it, and think of it as another part of enjoying a fulfilling life. Food should be a part of what makes life exciting and enjoyable, but should not be the focus. This practice is the most challenging part to attain, and it is the part which will take the most time, particularly if you’ve had a problematic or complicated relationship with food in the past. But once you reach a point where it can fall back in your mind and take a backseat, your mental energy can be reallocated and opened to many more exciting life experiences and ideas that aren’t related to diet.
With this perspective shift and change in relationship with food, living will not be about eating. Still, eating will become the fuel and sustenance for a fulfilling lifestyle, focused on your family, friends, career, and success.
Harahachi-bun is not a diet, and to be honest; it’s not even really a rule. It’s a way of intuitive eating and understanding food from a perspective of nourishment and sustenance.
I’ve gone from both ends of the extreme eating spectrum and found that I was neither happy nor productive in either state. Moderation can be a lot more complicated than saying, but once you master the art of it, your brain capacity does open up for better things.