What is Hara Hachi Bu?
Hara Hachi Bu is a Japanese term that translates into “eat until you are 80% full.” This is a concept that some would view as almost “un-American,” with our seeming national love affair with fast food value meals, all-you-can-eat buffets and supersized versions of unhealthy foods and drinks. And with that comes the sad fact that 70% of American adults are overweight or obese, with many suffering from related chronic illnesses.
But the Japanese are onto something with Hara Hachi Bu. This concept of eating until you are 80% full originated on the island of Okinawa, one of the 7 original so-called “Blue Zones” of the world. On Okinawa, people live statistically longer and healthier lives. In fact, a higher number of them than is typical reach the age of 100. And women on Okinawa live longer than women anywhere else. Researchers believe that eating less is part of the Okinawan secret to thriving. And thrive they do. According to the Cleveland Clinic, Okinawans have one of the lowest rates of heart disease, cancer and stroke in the world.
How can I practice Hara Hachi Bu and how do I know when I'm 80% full?
All of the recipes on The Portion Queen blog specify smaller portion sizes than most recipes that you find elsewhere on the internet. So, we are intentionally going for Hara Hachi Bu. But beyond these recipes, what it means to stop eating when you are 80% full is subjective and different for every person. And the strategies you can use are varied. For instance, I use 8” salad plates to serve meals instead of 12” dinner plates. So, when I serve dinner, the plates look full, but there is much less food on them. I also don’t serve dinner family style, which encourages having seconds. (How many of us were brought up to finish everything on our plates?)
Additionally, I find that if I eat a modest portion with mindfulness and then sit and chat or read for 10 minutes, I feel satisfied. And that’s really what it’s all about. Stop eating BEFORE you feel full. You will find that “satisfied” is a much more comfortable feeling for your body than “full.”
Mindfulness when eating is really important. And whether you are typically mindful or not, a tool of behavioral psychology, the visual cue, may be helpful to you. Visual cues are simply objects that you make readily visible to remind you to start or reinforce a desired behavior.
Wear a Blue Bracelet as a Hara Hachi Bu Visual Cue
Since Okinawa is one of the Blue Zones, try wearing a blue bracelet as the visible symbol of Hara Hachi Bu. As you are eating, the blue Hara Hachi Bu bracelet on your wrist can be a beautiful, yet constant reminder to be aware and stop eating at that point before you are full.
A Hara Hachi Bu bracelet doesn't need to be fancy or expensive. You might want to purchase a couple of different styles: a waterproof one for sports, a soft one for the workday and perhaps one with semi-precious stones for dining out. Here are our top picks of blue bracelets to support your hara hachi bu practice:
For less than $10, select from a wide variety of semi-precious stone beaded bracelets from Keleny, such as this 8mm Matte Blue Sodalite Bracelet. Keleny makes the bracelet with a durable elastic cord with a hidden knot. It looks great on women and men and can be casual or dressy.
Simple, customizable and good for sports
This Classic Custom 100% Silicone Wristband is waterproof. So, it's an excellent choice for an active person. Leave on all day, participate in sports and even take a shower with this bracelet. It's also customizable, so you can engrave "Hara Hachi Bu" or the English translation of "Eat Until 80% Full," or even "Stop Eating!" on the bracelet as yet another visual cue to support you on your journey.
For the environmentally conscious
This glass beaded bracelet from 4ocean does double duty. When you wear it you are doing something healthy for yourself as well as for the planet. Every bracelet purchased from 4ocean funds the removal of one pound of trash from the ocean, rivers, and coastlines. The clear blue beads are made from 95% certified post-consumer recycled glass bottles and reclaimed ocean glass.
This highly rated Southwest-inspired coiled bracelet from American West is handcrafted in New Mexico and features denim lapis-colored braided genuine leather with Stirling silver rope design endcaps. This is a very stylish Hara Hachi Bu reminder, indeed.
Geoffry Beene makes a handsome Men's Braided Leather Knot Bracelet with high quality stainless steel. It's a breeze to put on and take off with its strong magnetic clasp. It's marketed as a men's bracelet, but I think this leather knot bracelet is beautiful and elegant and would work for women as well. A gift box is included, so it would make a thoughtful gift for someone in your life also focused on developing healthier eating habits through Hara Hachi Bu.