More Thoughts on Hunger and Emotional Eating: Hara Hachi Bu

The Japanese have an expression, hara hachi bu, or “eat until you’re 80 percent full.”

Residents of the Japanese island of Okinawa, who are among the longest living and healthiest people in the world, have traditionally practiced hara hachi bu. The practice is to be mindful of your eating and eat only until you are 80 percent full.

To try hara hachi bu, eat until you feel “mostly full,” then wait 20 minutes. Pay attention to what the experience is like for you. Notice what that 80 percent really feels like.

Stopping at 80 percent fullness is actually a healthy strategy because it takes the stomach time to communicate fullness to the rest of the body. Many who stop at 80 percent will feel satisfied and will ultimately eat less. If you are accustomed to eating until you are more than 80 percent full, you might find that this stopping point leaves you less sleepy and more energetic after meals.

Practicing hara hachi bu is an excellent way to play with your experience of hunger and fullness. View it as an experiment. What does it feel like to leave the table with extra room? How difficult is it to assess that 80 percent feeling? Are there emotions or reactions that come up for you when you experiment with eating in this way?

Take good care,


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