A simple and cultured life.

60 Days to Your Best – Day 12 (Hara hachi bun me)

The Mannered at Marks Vienna Austria

Good evening from Vienna, Austria!

We are a family that gets invited to a lot of parties on the weekends. Baptisms, birthdays, anniversaries and other family type events. Because of this there are large amounts of food that are always present. Today, for example, was the baptism of a very good friend’s baby. It was a lovely service and a lively celebration afterwards. And of course there was the food. The food was fantastic: Roast duck, vegetables and tofu, fried noodles, sushi platters, and much more. At the party there were several people that were following our 60 program. And I thought that this would be a good opportunity to cover the topic of “cheat meals”.

Let me just say I hate the term “cheat meals” or “cheat day” for several reasons:

1) It gives food a bad reputation. If you want to eat something, eat it. But don’t feel guilty about it. Food is not a bad thing. It’s a good and necessary thing that fuels and nourishes our body. The only time you should avoid certain foods is if they are bad for you; i.e. food allergies, sugary foods for diabetics, high purine foods for people with gout, etc. If a certain food brings you joy, then by all means, enjoy the food.

2) It’s not realistic. Food deprivation goes against what we are trying to accomplish. We want to create and maintain realistic habits that will last you a lifetime. Will you be able to resist cheesecake for the rest of your life? Would you want to do that? Have your cheesecake and enjoy it. Life is way too short. Plus, nothing is more anyone than being that person that says, “I really want to eat that, but I can’t”.

3) There’s a tendency to go overboard. When you are hungry, you should eat and when you are no longer hungry, you should stop. When we indulge in cheat meals we tend to just keep eating. We are no longer mindful. Our eyes get huge and our stomachs suffer because of this. It feels good to be satiated, but I personally find it very uncomfortable to be “so full I can’t even sit properly.”

So what do you do when you are presented with opportunities to go overboard and “stuff yourself”? You practice the key habit of this program: Moderation

What I did today was enjoy all the foods I liked and enjoyed. I took very small portions and enjoyed every bight. I even had a few servings of desert. But I stopped when I was no longer hungry. I stopped before I got full.

The Japanese have a fantastic Confucian saying, which I personally ascribe to: Hara hachi bun me

Eat until you are 80% full. This article sums it up perfectly. But basically you eat until the pressure on your stomach is no longer present. Most of us have no idea what this feels like, because it takes roughly 20 minutes for our brain to register that we are no longer hungry. So by the time we get to the point that we are full, we are actually WAY TOO full, and often times (especially with the Western World’s portion sizes) we have overeaten.

I find that when I eat half of the portion that is usually allotted, after about 10 minutes I feel pretty satisfied.

Feeling full to the point where you can’t sit properly, where your pants are tight and you need to readjust your clothing is not a good feeling.

Moderation is the key. Eat a little of everything and a lot of nothing. Eat your cheesecake. Eat your pizza. Enjoy your donut, with zero guilt. Just don’t overdo it.


I’d love to hear any advice/comments/questions in the comment section below…

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