How often do you find yourself wishing you hadn’t taken that last bite of food? Or indulging in a second (or third) helping when you knew you were already getting full? Listen, we aren’t saying any of that’s the worst thing, but we also know how easily we slip into the habit of overeating.
This can lead to restricting ourselves on fad diets or signing up for pricy meal plans. If those work for you, great! However, if you find yourself falling off the wagon more often than not, you might want to try a completely different approach. This is where a Japanese technique known as “hara hachi bun me” can make a difference.
According to Medium author Kaki Okumura, the phrase translates to “8/10 of your stomach.” As you can sort of guess from that, it means cutting yourself off when you feel like you’re roughly 80 percent full. That’s it. No counting calories, carbs, or time spent fasting in between meals. It might sound a little too simple, but there’s a bit more to it.
Although hara hachi bun me doesn’t restrict you from the type of food you eat, Okumura suggests focusing on nutrient-rich meals rather than empty calories (like potato chips or sweet treats). Less nourishing food has a tendency to make you feel stuffed quickly, but only keep you full for a short time. That can, of course, lead to eating more and more…and more. If you focus on fruits, vegetables, proteins, and whole grains, however, you’ll be able to feel full longer and better understand the signals your stomach is sending you.
But how do you actually stop yourself from eating when you’re 80 percent full? Similar to intuitive eating, Okumura recommends chowing down slowly and taking breaks to give your body time to process the food and interpret how you’re really feeling. It is a bit of a guessing game, but like most things, the more you practice it, the more you’ll be able to find that sweet 80 percent full spot. Even if you do splurge on a treat every now and then, learning to stop when you’re at that 80 percent point will still help you lose weight without starving yourself.
One other major suggestion from Okumura: Stop obsessing over what you eat. That might sound like the exact opposite of everything we’ve written so far, but there’s a difference between being mindful and letting food constantly consume your thoughts. Hopefully, if you follow the other recommendations for hara hachi bun me, it should become second nature. You’ll then be able to free up space in your mind for more fun stuff instead of stressing about how many calories you’ve consumed.
Give this technique a shot for a few days and see if it makes you feel better about your eating habits.