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Healthy Eating Tip: Hara Hachi Bu

In a recent report on longevity the Japanese island of Okinawa was extolled as one extremely healthy place to live and age. Aside from having an elderly friendly culture and an exceptional diet (lots of fish, soy and a colorful array of veggies), Okinawans follow the philosophy of hara hachi bu, meaning eat until you're only 80 percent full. A little different from the stuff yourself silly mentality behind those all you can eat buffets.

Typically, Okinawans eat about 1200 calories a day, which is about 20 percent less than the average Briton. Interesting figure don't ya think? I think it is a great way to eat and reminds me of advice a yoga teacher gave me a good long while ago. Eat just enough so you can practice yoga after your meal. That is, eat so you have enough energy to practice but not so much that practicing yoga would be uncomfortable.

Try it at your next couple of meals. Of course this requires eating mindfully as well, which is another healthful eating practice.


gabiushka gabiushka 9 years
Asians and Japanese in particular are shorter in height, that might be why the 1200 calorie intake.
healthyeats healthyeats 9 years
cambridge - you are right about those studies. a lower caloric intake slows down cell reproduction. less cellular "turnover" results in longer life (at least in mice). 1200 claories -- well, maybe 1500, is not as difficult as it sounds. the key is to eat foods less dense in calories (fruits and vegetables, nutritous proteins). diets like weight watchers (points based) assign less points to the "right" foods, allowing you to eat to satisfaction without going over 2000 or even 3000 calories. this, of course, requires a commitment to a healthy lifestyle that can be difficult for many to maintain in our society due to time and convenience concerns. of course, those who exercise extensively, would require more calories -- but it's important not to overestimate your caloric needs.
nancita nancita 9 years
Such a good idea. Often I will think, "I'm not that full yet" and I keep eating. But then it hits you later!
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
I never eat until i am ready to burst! I hate that feeling...
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Interesting thought...
cambridge cambridge 9 years
Interesting...there is actually a lot of data in animal studies that shows decreased caloric intake --> longer lifespan, regardless of overall diet. I agree that I don't think I could make it on 1200 calories a day, but I don't keep track.
serendipity009 serendipity009 9 years
I agree with marygrace. 1200 calories??? I like the idea of eating just enough to practice yoga after your meal, but I know I won't progress in yoga if I starve myself. When I was eating 1200 calories a day in college I was bingeing a few nights a week, and feeling too weak to do a full workout. Just listen to your body for what to eat, and doing yoga will teach you how.
marygrace marygrace 9 years
I don't think you should ever stuff yourself while eating, but I know I'd have a hard time getting through the day on 1,200 calories. For people who work out, that's not enough food.
ley ley 9 years
I don't eat to get full..
Julienne Julienne 9 years
Very interesting article! Thank You!
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