Portion Control – Hara hachi bu

portion control is key in losing weightPortion control

It seems most of us would like to lose a few pounds or maybe more than a few.  In the coaching of my clients, I find the easier part is to help them understand how to make better choices in the food they eat. Often, once the changes have been made and the weight loss is still not happening as it should, we need to revisit portion control.  Let’s discuss that and the reasons why it may not be as easy as you would expect.

How do you feel when you’re finished eating?  Are you full, really full, or do you feel stuffed?  Our “All You Can Eat” dining out specials aren’t helping with our weight loss.  Your body gets used to the feeling of being stuffed.

Did you know that the people of Okinawa eat only until they feel about 80% full.  It’s a practice called “hara hachi bu”.  It is in part, the reason so many Okinawans live to be 100 or more.  Can you eat until you’re…let’s call it…not hungry, but not yet full and then push away from the table?  If you can adopt this habit and practice hara hachi bu, it will go a long way toward helping you achieve your weight loss goals and enjoy healthy, long-term weight management and even better overall health! If you want to learn more about their remarkable health and longevity and how it’s tied to portion control, I highly recommend this book!

If you’re accustomed to eating until you’re very full or even stuffed, how would you go about putting hara hachi bu into practice?  There are a few simple things you can do.  One is to use a smaller plate when you eat a meal.  It may sound silly, but a smaller meal on a large plate looks visually as though you’ll probably be thinking of going back for seconds.  You know it’s true…  If you have a smaller meal on a smaller plate, it will look generous and appealing.  I did this with my breakfast plates, and I’m not talking about restricting yourself to a small bread plate.  Find a few plates that are an in between size to get you started, and see if this helps you with your portion control.

If you’re someone who enjoys eating out, there is another easy thing you can do so you’re not cleaning a huge plate of your favorite meal.  When your meal arrives, ask the waiter for a to-go container, and divide your meal in half before you begin.  That way you’ll eat a moderate portion of everything and will still have a way to enjoy it again for your next lunch or dinner.  My friend Joan told me about this one, and I thought it was a brilliant idea!

The third thing you will need to do is to get accustomed to feeling not stuffed, even not completely full.  I’m not suggesting you should be starving yourself; that’s not the way to lose weight, as you’ll most likely get so hungry that you’ll lose your resolve and will reach for the nearest bag of cookies or chips.  Just be aware of how full you feel.  Unconscious eating has gotten us into a lot of trouble with our weight and our health.

Read about the Okinawans; they’ve got it right!  Be aware of how full you feel.  It’s ok to push away from the table and not be stuffed.  You’ll be happier with yourself and healthier in the long run.

Helping You Achieve Major Wellness!

Cheryl A Major, CNWC

Certified Nutrition & Wellness Consultant

Cheryl A Major, CNWC



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