Hara Hachi Bu

Eat until you’re 80% full!

Here in America we’ve got a full belly built into the language of eating. “Are you full?” we ask our children. “Clean your plate!” we tell our children. We even award each other at the table for being a part of the Clean Plate Club. Our portion sizes are enormous. Our large plates and bowls promote overeating. Many restaurants even have eating challenges! This mindset and this language is difficult to break free from, but it’s not impossible.

As I become more and more aware of my eating habits I’ve come to contemplate how I speak to my son in terms of eating. I catch myself from asking “are you full? and instead I ask “are you done being hungry?” It’s a super awkward way of speaking, but my three year old understands what I’m asking. Now he’ll even say, “I’m done being hungry dad,” with food still on his plate. I don’t force him to clean his plate. I encourage him to try new foods but don’t mandate he eats everything. Not only am I helping my son to have a healthy relationship with food I’m reinforcing the change in my own mindset.

So, how do we break away from always eating until we’re full?

  • Weigh and measure your food. Even though many scoff at this practice, it’s a good way to learn what a serving size is. When I started tracking my food with the app LoseIt! I was amazed at how much I was over eating! A handful of cashews can be anywhere from 2-4 servings of fatty nuts. Something that can be good for you will really push your belt loop if you’re not aware of portions.
  • Get/use vcontainers to visualize portion size. There are plenty of companies that sell these containers and most big box stores carry them. Even if you don’t use these forever they are good at helping you see a serving. These would be an alternative to weighing your food.
  • Use smaller bowls, plates, and cups. We are visual eaters. If your plate is full you’ll feel satisfied just looking at it. If your plate is mostly empty you’ll want more food before even starting. You need to trick your brain as you develop healthy habits.
  • Check labels and follow the serving size. If you eat a lot of packaged food make sure you’re aware of the recommended serving size. A lot of candy bars now are 2-3 servings, because they’ve gotten bigger. Most frozen meals are 2 servings. Most bottles of flavored drinks are 2+ servings.
  • Keep the food in the kitchen so you have to get up to get more. Sometimes I really want that second helping, but most of the time I rethink what I’m doing after having to get up. That short walk is all I need to feel satisfied and not full.

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