Hara Hachi Bu Principle: Eat to Lose Weight!
Get leaner while eating? Lose weight without trying? And live longer while at it? Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?
In a world filled with diets, weight loss programs and billions spent on achieving the ever-eluding waistline, the “eat to lose weight” premise sounds too good to be true. But I promise that this is not a clickbait article, my friend. Today I will give you a simple tool that, if used right, is guaranteed to slim your waistline effortlessly.
How do I know?
It’s worked for thousands of people over thousands of years.
Is it a magic potion? A gimmick? Or a pill?
Not at all!
The principle I am about to share with you will require work. It will require you to recondition your mind, and retrain your habits. But it will cost no money while yielding outstanding outcomes if you are ready for an intuitive way to lose weight and keep it off.
Enter Hara Hachi Bu – a 2,500-year-old lifestyle principle that is rooted in the teaching of Confucius.
Okinawa – a Land of Centenarians
The lush Okinawa island is located in Japan and is known for being a place of longevity. It is located in one of the world’s five blue zones. Its inhabitants benefit from the longest life expectancy on the planet. The island of Okinawa boasts the highest number of centenarians per capita compared to any other place in the world. Generally, Okinawan men are expected to live to about 84 years, while women are expected to live to almost 90, compared to 75 years for men and 80 for US women.
But it’s not only the life expectancy that makes Okinawa a subject of multiple studies. Okinawans are also known for their stellar health and healthy body weight.
Compared to the USA, Okinawans experience:
- a fifth of cardiovascular diseases
- a fifth of breast and prostate cancers
- less than half the rate of dementia
- 6-12 times fewer heart disease deaths
- 2-3 times fewer colon cancer deaths
- 7 times fewer prostate cancer deaths
- 5.5 times lower risk of dying from breast cancer
Okinawans are less likely to suffer from age-related diseases than those living a Westernized lifestyle.
Until 1960, Okinawans on average consumed 40% fewer daily calories than residents of the United States. That’s a significant calorie gap! Yet, they did not suffer. In fact, the opposite was true. They had an 80% lower rate of coronary diseases and cancer deaths, relative to the US population at that time.
While these days Okinawa is getting affected by Westernized diet trends and their obesity and overweight rates are going up, their elderly and their centenarians tend to maintain a lower BMI compared to their US counterparts.
What’s their secret?
Let’s dive into the Okinawan health and longevity formula, and discover their secret to eating to lose and maintain weight.
Enter pillar #1…
1. Hara Hachi Bu
Hara Hachi Bu (sometimes pronounced as hara hachi bun) is a phrase based on the 2,500-year-old teachings of Confucius. Roughly translated it means, “Eat until your stomach is 80% full’’. It’s a phrase the Okinawans say before each meal and a mindset they adopted to keep their bodies slim and healthy and their minds sharp.
Hara Hachi Bu has been passed down through generations for thousands of years on the fertile, subtropical island of Okinawa, and it might be one of the reasons over 20% of the population in Okinawa, Japan, reach the age of over 100 years.
Okinawans say: “Eight parts of a full stomach sustain the man; the other two sustain the doctor.” In other words: 80% of a full stomach will keep you full and healthy, but take it to 100% and you will keep your doctor happy and employed. So, Okinawans take pride in teaching their children to eat until they are not hungry, rather than eating until they are full – a point where a lot of diseases are created.
Mealtimes of Okinawans are devoid of distractions such as TV and multi-tasking. Instead, when eating, they focus on eating slowly and enjoying their food – its texture, taste and aroma, and the pleasant company of their friends and family to boot. Gratitude with each bite – Hara Hachi Bu, and Okinawans get to enjoy their healthy lives.
“Is this the secret to weight loss, Elena? Lower calorie intake?” you ask. “If I implement calorie restriction, eat less of the same thing I am eating, will I be slimmer and enjoy a healthy life?”
Not so fast, my Friend. That would be too easy, because…
It’s Not Only How Much You Eat, But What You Eat That Matters.
2. A Plant-Based Diet
Okinawans have been studied for decades to understand their secret to longevity. And here is what researchers found.
It’s not only HOW MUCH Okinawans eat, but also WHAT they eat that makes them healthy, slim, and affords them longer life spans.
Here’s what the researchers found: Older Okinawan generations have eaten a plant-based diet most of their lives. Their meals of vegetables, sweet potatoes, herbs, spices, whole grains, and tofu are high in nutrients and low in calories, and are high in antioxidants. Antioxidants protect their bodies against free radicals, even though Okinawa is quite polluted. This helps them to extend their lifespan.
They consume little fish – about three to four times a week; and almost no other meats, except on special occasions. By some estimates, they consume meat no more than 5-7 times per month.
Some studies have indicated that before the modernization of food production, less than 1% of the Okinawan diet was fish; less than 1% was meat; less than 1% was dairy and eggs, and less than 1% came from alcohol.
The rest? Plants! Plants! And more Plants! Most of their calories coming from purple and orange sweet potatoes.
Until recent modernization in food production, 85% of Okinawan diet came from carbohydrates, 9% from protein sources, and only 6% from fat. (Source) This, my Friend, is a picture-perfect formula for health. Easy on the stomach, and even easier on the hips, and a sure way to avoid most health problems.
(To learn more about the Okinawan diet, watch this short video by Dr. McGregor.)
“Okay, Elena! Got it! Eat mostly plants, and eat until I am only 80% full. Is that it? Is this the secret to weight loss and longevity?”
Almost, my impatient Friend. You almost got it.
Enter Pillar #3 of the Okinawan longevity and healthy weight maintenance formula.
Most Okinawans farm and garden. They stay active even into their 100s. Yet, much like with their diet, they take an unhurried and moderate approach to their fitness. Rather than hitting the gym on the weekend and hoping for the best, as Americans do, Okinawans move as much as they can. They walk daily, they garden, and you won’t find Okinawan centenarians Netflix binge… Ever!
Did you know that sitting down for 30 minutes slows your metabolism by 90%? It’s no surprise that our sedentary lifestyles with 50-minute spurts of energy expansions at the gym if we are lucky, keep us overweight, unhealthy, and groggy.
90% in 30 minutes…
Seems drastic, doesn’t it?
But there is an easy fix to this problem, and Okinawans take advantage of it, in combination with hara hachi bu…
If you get up and move for 5 minutes every 25-30 minutes, you can reactivate your metabolism.
5 minutes! That’s all it takes to kick your metabolism back up into the calorie-burning gear. This is the reason Okinawans prefer continuous movement throughout the day, rather than short spurts of intense exercise once a day. If you want the same for yourself, be sure to set a timer on your phone to go off every 25-30 minutes to remind you to move for 5 or more minutes.
One of the ways Okinawans stay active is by having a very robust social life.
4. Social Life
Okinawans elderly have very rich social lives. You will be hard-pressed to find a depressed centenarian. Rather than guzzling down their meals in front of a TV, they prefer to meet up with their friends, share their food, share their lives, and attend community events for a happy heart and immune system boosting.
It’s this continuous movement and social engagement that keeps them happy and slim. It also keeps them off meds and clear of anxiety, depression, and away from expanding waistlines.
There is ONE more ingredient, my friend, Pillar #5, that keeps Okinawans stretching their time on our blue and green planet to over 100 years. It’s called…
“Iki-what?” you say.
Ikigai is the Japanese secret to a long and happy life. According to the Japanese – everyone has ikigai.
Ikigai is a concept that refers to one’s reason for living; one’s purpose or direction in life. Not necessarily the kind that takes the world by storm and puts you on the cover of the Time Magazine. Rather, it’s a meaningful purpose that brings you joy and gives you a sense of fulfillment. Ikigai is a purpose in life that moves you to take meaningful actions toward completing your ikigai every single day.
Ikigai is the balance of life. It encompasses our diet, movement, our social life, and our purpose.
One day you can find your ikigai in parenting, another in gardening, another – finding pleasure in doing your job or running your business, yet another – in connecting with your friends or serving your community. It might be the kind of purpose that reduces human suffering, or the kind that puts a smile on your baby’s face.
Ikigai is also living a life of service to others and sharing your life with friends and family.
If you want to take a deep dive into the meaning and the art of Ikigai living, I recommend reading “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life” book by Hector Garcia and Francesc Mirrales.
The Secret Formula for a Healthy & Slim Body and a Happy Life
Now we have come full circle, my Friend. This is how Okinawans live longer, healthier, and keep their bodies in shape.
Hara Hachi Bu + A Plant-Based Diet + Movement + Social Life + Ikigai
That’s your formula for permanent and intuitive weight loss, happiness, and longevity.
Now you can practice it.
Are you ready?
Want to get the second part of the Hara Hachi Bu weight loss lesson? Subscribe RIGHT HERE to get a download of the full Hara Hachi Bu article, which includes the second part of this lesson, in which I share with you the HOW-TO of practicing Hara Hachi Bu.
In the second part of the lesson, I give you a step-by-step guide you can print out and follow daily.
I show you how you can train your body to know what being 80% full feels like, and how to train your mind to embrace practicing being satisfied with your Hara Hachi Bu lifestyle.
I also give you a list of the worst foods for weight loss and health, so you can avoid them, and the best foods to consume to achieve not only healthy body weight but also healthy thyroid, balanced hormones, and a healthy body.
Make sure to subscribe to start eating your way to weight loss.
COMPANION HARA HACHI BU PODCAST EPISODE
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Holistic Master Health & Life Coach
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