American portion sizes are notorious for being oversized, but bigger is not always better. With Americans consuming upwards of 3,600 calories per day, it’s no surprise that so many American adults struggle with obesity (and all the health issues that come with it). While tracking calories and utilizing time-restricted eating may help curb your daily calorie count, it can still be a challenge to avoid overeating come mealtime. That’s where finding your hara hachi bu point can help. “Hara hachi bun me” is a Japanese phrase meaning “eat until 80% full”. This strategy is one used in Okinawa, Japan, which is identified as one of the planet’s Blue Zones, where people enjoy better health and longer lifespans.

Give your brain time to catch up to your stomach.

Hara hachi bu eating allows your brain time to recognize that your body is full. It takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to digest food, so you may find yourself eating more than you need to before you realize that you’re full. Then, you’re just left feeling bloated and remorseful. Slowing down during mealtime and listening to your body’s signals will let you stop sooner, when you feel mostly full but not stuffed. Along with striving to eat less and leave more food behind on your plate, you might also strive to eat more colorfully with more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to round out each meal.

Start slow and scale up.

It can be challenging to begin recognizing your body’s hunger signals, so some training can help. Start by just leaving one bite behind from a standard portion on your plate. For example, if you eat a bagel every morning and always finish the whole thing, try leaving just one bite behind. Once you get used to doing this at every meal, scale up to two bites and go from there. As you adjust to more methodical eating, you’ll find that you can be satisfied with much less food than you initially thought you needed.

If you’re struggling to maintain a healthy weight, consulting a physician can help. Your doctor can rule out medical causes for weight gain like hormonal imbalances and recommend healthy, sustainable strategies for healthy eating and regular exercise. Consult a medical practitioner on your schedule with MeMD. Our virtual care services can let you talk to a doctor or nurse practitioner anytime, anywhere.

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