Hara Hashi Bu and You // What We Can Learn From The “Land of Immortals”

Just. One. More. Bite. I thought as my forkful of food circled lethargically around my plate as I contemplated how the last morsel could possible fit into my already expanded stomach. And why, with my feet dangling inches from the floor as child at a dinner table with no dog to sneak food to, was I trying to clean my plate when I was stuffed to the brim? This can be summed up in 5 words:  “Finish your plate before dessert.” The thought of a treat being so tempting that the second compartment of my stomach was sure to open up, just in the nick of time!

Sound familiar? Well this morning, with Aussie (my guinea pig) in my lap, I had all too much fun reading about a little something called hara hashi bu and the Okinawan way of life.
This community based in Japan was once known as the “land of immortals” and a blue zone, a place where residents were recognised for longevity. The Okinawa’s were celebrated and long sought after for their ability to live beyond 100 years. Since fast food and modern lifestyle conveniences have slipped into their culture, life expectancy is beginning to plummet as stated on bluezones.com. However, there is much to learn from the prior generations who knew how to live life right. So what were they doing and how can we do it too?
  • Plant Based

The traditional Okinawan diet emphasizes:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • whole grains
  • legumes
  • fish
  • Their diet is also rich in soy but the form is what is critical. They eat mainly unprocessed soy products. The ones I suggest: miso and tempeh


  • They grow gardens and reap the benefits both from daily exercise, enjoyment, and nutrient dense foods. According to bluezones.com, mugwort, ginger, and turmeric are staples in their gardens. These all have potent medicinal and cleansing properties in our bodies. Ginger and turmeric are the two that I use vigorously throughout the day utilizing both fresh and powdered forms.

The Hara hashi bu Principle:

eat only to 80% full
  • Eating in accordance with this principle will prevent us from overloading our bodies and burdening it with food it must digest. It will also help to reduce our sluggish feelings after a meal. More energy to digest = less energy for you.
  • Studies show a positive correlation between low caloric diets and longevity. My belief: it is less stress and energy put forth into digesting our food while still providing adequate energy and nutrients needed for that individual. But not so fast, here’s two things to know about calorie restriction: 
  • It is not so much about calories as it is about nutrient density. You can bet that the individual subsisting on a low-calorie diet of highly processed foods is not going to be the thriving individual we’re talking about here.
Prescription for wellness: Count nutrients, not calories
  • Your caloric needs and amount of food intake are specific to you. My grandfather eats ginormous amounts of food and rarely feels stuffed but you wonder where it goes on his slender, muscular physique. The trick: he’s highly active, eats only high quality, nutrient dense foods and has a very high metabolism. Likewise, someone else needs comparatively less food to thrive. Find what works for you.
Make Hara Hashi Bu Work for You:
The challenge: from years of overriding our body’s natural signals, it can be difficult to determine what 80% feels like. Here are some tips:
  • Turn off your tv, computer etc. Anything that will distract you from the experience of eating and from your internal fullness cues.
  • Shrink your stomach
Nothing to do with weight-loss per say, but when we eat beyond our capacity, we expand our stomach. Therefore, we may eat all the food we need but our stomach will not be as full or feel as full. I read somewhere that it takes 15-20 meals for your stomach muscles to readjust, but I haven’t found any legitimate evidence of this. What it will take is a bit of time.
  • Eat slower.
Give your body time to register the food it is taking in and when you think you may be getting close to 80%, stop. If 20minutes later you still feel you need more food, enjoy.
  • Eat on smaller plates
Holistic life hacks to reducing food intake: eat on smaller plates! It will subconsciously trick you into thinking you’re eating more than you are so you don’t take as much food as you would to load up a large plate.
Taking a cue from hara hashi bu,
Suzanne Eden

4 thoughts on “Hara Hashi Bu and You // What We Can Learn From The “Land of Immortals”

  1. It was five years ago that I made this very diet change…but I was unaware of nutrient density nor had I heard of this. I simply started to reduce my portions but eating healthier-filling up on vegetables and reducing my red meat intake. The universe will unfold as it should. Thank you for the enlightenment.

  2. Pingback: 6 Ways Thanksgiving Just Made You Healthier! | Life Of Eden

  3. Pingback: Five Reasons To Eat Your Way To Japan – Life Of Eden

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