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How to have a flat belly – The Japanese Method that stick forever!

How do you feel when the skirt you’re using recently doesn’t fit your waist suddenly?

You might say I shouldn’t eat too much 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 crucial 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 belly.

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?

Basically, 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 very simple principles that it should not overindulge in food, and it should be modest about how much been eaten. Neither starving nor stuffing themselves, it follows the principle 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 in an intuitive way, 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, harahachi-bunme 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 mindlessly eat. 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 really 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 obsessively consider these details. Trust your body, it will respond appropriately.
  • Tracking micro details won’t really be sustainable in the long-run unless you really enjoy dedicating mental energy to thinking about food in this sort of manner (and some people do!). For most of us though, just focus on consuming whole foods, limit your refined carbs, and your body will know the rest.

Stop when you’re 80% full.

  • This is the most important 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 difficult 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 harahachi-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 interesting and enjoyable, but should not be the focus. This practice is the most difficult 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 interesting 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, but eating will become the fuel and sustenance for a fulfilling lifestyle, focused on your family, friends, career, and success.

Harahachi-bunme is not really 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 difficult than said, but once you master the art of it, your brain capacity really does open up for better things.

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Comments

  1. Luigi says:

    Hi

    Lovely colors to start, well done.I like a lot the way you divided the contents and also the writing color on some of the headings, which I haven’t managed as yet, well done. All this are positive:
    The negative part are: your heading statement is partially obscured- doesn’t look good , you should amend it as people want to read in full.
    Also a big no, too many writing errors on your text content. get it analysed and changed.
    Good luck

    1. Lynn says:

      Hello Luigi,

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, I really appreciate it.

      I’m definitely taking your feedback seriously and look forward to a better and room for improvement.

      Best regards,
      Lyn

  2. Hans says:

    Not sure if I am the only one but… I always overestimate my stomach when it comes to ordering food when I am hungry, and thus stuffing all of them inside of me even if my threshold is reached because I do not wish to waste food…. I really need to apply the “stop when 80% full” rule and not ruin my body OR make a rule to remove some items from my order list before submitting it….

    1. Lynn says:

      Hello Hans,

      I appreciate for taking the time to comments.

      I agree with you especially when you very hungry and the foods in front of you are so appetizing and appealing.
      What I do is drink water before I touch the served foods to minimized my appetite.
      When you are in the restaurant don’t order foods at once, one at a time to avoid waste foods.

      Best regards,
      Lyn

  3. Cathy says:

    What a great concept! In anime there always seems to be people who eat 17 bowls of noodles and still want more food. In live actor movies, even with heavy-set characters, the Japanese seem to have better things to do than eat. My dad used to always say, “You eat to keep from being hungry.” I’m one who binges on comfort food and stares at a treadmill. The harahachi-bunme is such a great idea. And of course, it would be the way of the frugal Japanese.

    1. Lynn says:

      Hi Cathy,

      Thank you for your comments.

      Yes, that’s true it is a kindly concept to yourself and to your health to practice the method of Hara Hachi Bunme especially if you are on diet.
      In festivals on some specific prefectures, they hold this co-called “eat as you can”, this can be in bowls of noodles as you can see in the Anime or movies, but this is only for the people who want to try and not everybody.

      Once more thank you,
      Lyn

  4. misswilma says:

    I totally agree with you about the foods we should eat. Great post. Not sure I have the will power to follow it. My main problem is sweets but I do plan to keep coming back to your site and
    try a little harder to loose belly fat. Keep up the good work.
    Wilma

    1. Lynn says:

      Hi Wilma,

      Oh! Thank you for your inspiring comments. I’m so glad that I have able to provide you a piece of information that you can follow to have a healthy living.
      I admit too that I love sweets like everybody, but we must be aware to take it in moderation.

      Best wishes,
      Lyn

  5. Janie says:

    I love this idea of mindful eating, the golden midway and not exaggerating in any way. As you say we shouldn’t be starving but also not feel stuffed. This truely is the basis of well-being and being active.
    We need energy, we need nutrients but shouldn’t spend half the day digesting! I had never heard about this rule but I’m already convinced that it is very helpful. I will try it from now on,
    Thank you for sharing and keep the good advice coming!
    Janie

    1. Lynn says:

      Hi Janie,

      Thank you for taking the time to comments.

      I’m so glad that you like the idea of mindful eating, here in Japan, they serve foods that is in seasons, in different menus within a small portion.
      The cook considers the nutrients needed to be healthy.

      Once again thank you so much,
      Lyn

  6. James says:

    Excellent article, thank you for sharing! I first came across the concept of Harahachi Bunme 腹八分目 when reading about the Okinawan lifestyle and diet. It emphasises a healthy relationship with food and with your body, rather than obsessing about food and overeating or undereating.

    I totally agree with your mention of using natural whole foods, this is something I try to live by in my everyday life and promote to others in hope that they will do the same! This is a truly rewarding way of appreciating and enjoying real food. 🙂

    1. Lynn says:

      Thank you, James I’m so glad that you are aware of this concept Hara Hatchi Bunme.

      I’m implementing this in our family diet. As you said it emphasizes a healthy relationship with food and with the body, rather than obsessing about food and overeating or undereating.

      Once again thank you so much,
      Lyn

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