A couple weeks ago a friend asked me why it’s best to eat until you’re 80% full, to which I realized I didn’t have a great answer other than, “it’s just easier on your body.”

Of course, there’s a bit of science behind hara hachi bu, the Japanese saying that means eat until you are 80% full. Practiced by the Okinawan people (who are known for their amazing health and longevity!) hara hachi bu does in fact help keep our bodies in balance which allows us to age gracefully.



To review, when we overeat, we are essentially saturating the electron transport chain within our mitochondria, which in turn leads to generating too many reactive oxygen species. And when we have too many reactive oxygen species, our cells fall out of balance and damage occurs, setting the stage for chronic disease and signs of aging.

We can practice hara hachi bu and eat until we are 80% full by being more mindful:

  • turn off electronics while eating – no t.v., emails, video games, etc
  • eat slowly, chew each bit thoroughly, and set your fork down between bites
  • assess halfway through the meal how you are feeling in terms of hunger and satisfaction
  • do not feel obligated to finish everything on your plate!


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