Hara hachi-bu… is the Japanese translation of a practice that has guided the eating practices of the Japanese for centuries and is likely one of the main reasons they have been able to gain the reputation as being the world’s longest living people. If I had to sum up the two most important things about diet and nutrition, it would essentially boil down to… eat a balanced diet consisting of whole foods (with an emphasis on the vegetables) and make sure not to overeat. Doing just those two things would provide you with a great foundation for optimizing your health and longevity as far as diet is concerned.
The traditional Japanese perspective on when to stop eating is very different than what we practice in the west. We typically stop eating when we are full (and sometimes not even then), whereas they stop eating when they are no longer hungry (which obviously occurs before you feel full). Next time you sit down to a meal, eat slowly and pay attention to the amount of food that you have consumed when you are no longer hungry as compared to when you are full. The difference between those two points is likely 100-200 calories worth of food, which really adds up over time.
Researchers now believe that the reason chronic overeating is so dangerous for our health, is due to the over-activation of a pathway known in the science world as mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin). The over-expression of this pathway is linked to the development of many signs of aging and disease, such as: cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, skin aging, osteoporosis, diabetes, and hypertension. One of the most natural ways to slow the activation of mTOR, and thus increase longevity, is to eat fewer calories. You don’t necessarily have to decrease the amount of food you are eating, just the calories (which means including foods high in vitamins and minerals, but low in calories at each meal… A.K.A. vegetables). I am not going to sugar coat this one, this particular key is a difficult one to master and will take time. If you are up for the challenge, just remember to be mindful and patient with the process and in time you will be very grateful for your new approach to eating.