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    80% Full, 100% Healthy: A Simple Secret to Healthier Eating

      |  Feb 12, 2024

    When you’re eating a meal, how do you know you’re done? Is it when your plate is empty, or when you feel like you can barely move out of your chair? Do you leave most meals feeling energetic, or sluggish and weighed down? 

    For many of us, a meal is over when we’ve reached peak fullness. While that might seem like an obvious stopping point, there’s another way to approach meals that might actually improve your health, leave you satisfied, and eliminate symptoms of bloating and sluggishness. Introducing: the 80% rule. 

    Hara hachi bun me: the origins of the 80% rule

    The 80% rule is a translation of the Japanese phrase hara hachi bun me, but the idea actually originated in China as a Confucion teaching. The Japanese translation is "Eat until you are eight parts (out of ten) full" or "belly 80 percent full" and it’s still being practiced in parts of the country, most notably in Okinawa. This island off the coast of Japan has been dubbed a Blue Zone by scientists for its track record of centenarian residents, many of which follow the 80% rule. 

    The health benefits of the 80% rule

    Eating until you’re 80% full reduces the risk of overeating, and the subsequent consequences. Overeating can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and other inflammatory conditions. 

    If you’re worried about not being satiated, it’s important to remember that feeling 80% full during a meal can feel like being 100% full only a short while afterwards. In many of our daily tasks, our body and brain are perfectly in sync. Our brain tells our legs to walk and they do it, without additional thought or delay, or we sing along to a song in the car without much, if any, effort. The act of eating however, is not the same. The stomach is particularly slow to send hunger signals to the brain, which can easily lead to overeating, especially if you’re not paying attention to your body or eating too quickly.

    How to implement the 80% rule

    If you’re not used to implementing mindful eating practices, eating until you’re 80% full can feel like an impossible metric to measure. If you don’t feel you’re unable to know when you’re 80% full, start by reducing your regular portion sizes by 20%. This is especially useful if you only stop eating once your plate is cleared. 

    Slowing down during your meals is also important to maintaining the 80% rule. Try to eliminate distractions, like your phone or the TV, so you can focus on how much you’re eating and how you feel as you eat. Try putting down your fork between bites, and make sure to chew your food thoroughly. How does your body feel as your meal progresses? What about after? Your meal should make you feel energized and satiated. You should have room for more food, but not so much that you need to eat more to carry on with your day.

    Explore metabolic health with Modern Age

    The 80% rule is one way to support metabolic health as you age, but it’s not the only method. Our metabolic health is the process in which our body converts food into energy, and it’s prone to change or decline as we age. Along with a mindful, balanced diet, you can support your metabolic health with supplements like L-Carnitine, an amino acid that helps maintain metabolism and energy levels, or treatments like NAD+ injections, which have been clinically created to boost energy levels and fight inflammation.

    If you want to get a better picture of your metabolic health, take our Aging Wellness Assessment. This research backed series of tests gives you a holistic look at your health as you age, and can help identify the root causes behind aging related symptoms like weight gain, fatigue, and memory loss. Once you have your results, you’ll receive the guidance of a Modern Age licensed clinician to create a customized plan for your unique health.