Updated: Oct 12, 2019
These days I hear this Japanese phrase everywhere: Hara Hachi Bun Me. It means 'Belly 80 Percent Full' which is usually used to say 'Eat only until you are 80% full.' Although I was constantly told to eat 120% full being a skinny child, my parents were preaching 'Hara Hachi Bun Me' just like an admonition to themselves in my childhood.
As I was listening to BBC radio show the other day, I came across the criticism against the Eatwell Guide launched by Public Health England. GPs and health experts are complaining that people are still getting fatter and fatter even following this guide.
It looks like their problem lies where the third of the meal based on the Eatwell guide is carbohydrate. But let me say this as a woman from the country of the longest life expectancy, all of my older family members have been eating a bowl of white rice everyday at almost every meal but nobody ever had heart attack, stroke nor diabetes.
In fact, we do need carbo. For Samurais, rice balls were the essential source of energy to go out in the field and battle for hours. Or in modern time, professional cyclists who consumes up to 8000 kcal a day have to eat pasta to keep up with the loss and to recuperate.
So the solution to me was clear: Just eat smaller potion if you don't exercise!! You just eat 80% of what you eat.
And think of the balance of things you are eating. Of course if you are eating only bread, it's not good for you, but do you think it is good if you are eating only carrot, for example? It won't be healthy either because we are not a rabbit... In the UK, you say 'Five a day,' but in Japan we say '32 a day.' So eat as many variety of things as possible.
Sometimes Hara Hachi Bun Me applies to things other than eating habit. However much you love something, the excessive exposure to it will make you lose an appetite. So 80% Full is always the gold!