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A Healthy Serving of ‘Hara Hachi Bu’

This spring, do as the Okinawans do, and “hara hachi bu.”

While researching the areas of the world with the longest-lived people, Blue Zones Project® founder and National Geographic explorer Dan Buettner discovered that residents of Okinawa, Japan have a successful strategy for maintaining a healthy weight.  Before meals they say the Confucian mantra hara hachi bu, which reminds them to stop eating when they are 80 percent full.

This time-tested practice restricts the number of calories consumed during meal time and guards against overindulgence – two primary catalysts of obesity.   In fact, the 20 percent gap between feeling satisfied and feeling stuffed is often the difference between losing or gaining excess weight.

And best of all, it can tack on years to your life.

Buettner’s research identified such a strong correlation between what he coined the “80% Rule” and the Okinawan’s unparalleled longevity – the island boasts the world’s highest proportion of centenarians – that the 2,500-year-old practice was added to Blue Zones Project’s Power 9® Principles.  These nine lifestyle habits, shared by the longest-lived people, help unlock health, longevity and happiness.

So how do you enact hara hachi bu in your home?  Here are some ideas.

·         Join a healthy potluck group.  Beach Cities Health District’s Blue Zones Project groups people with similar food interests to share recipes, sample properly proportioned dishes and socialize.  To create or join a potluck group (or Moai), go to bchd.org/bzpmoai.

·         Use smaller plates and glassware. Ten-inch plates and tall, skinny glasses help you physically, and psychologically, consume less food and drink (trust me; you won’t even notice the smaller portions).

·         Eat and serve correct portions. A helpful rule of thumb is to measure out foods with your hands. For example, a healthy serving of meat or fish is roughly the size of your palm. For vegetables, fruits and whole grains, like rice or pasta, a single serving should be about half a cup, or the size of your fist.

·         Dine at Blue Zones Restaurants®.  More than 60 popular eateries in the Beach Cities adhere to Blues Zones Project’s healthy guidelines, which include proper portions, more nutritious options and smaller glassware/plates.  Look for the purple seal in the window.

Want more information?  Visit bchd.org/bzp.

 

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