What is Hara Hachi Bu: Three Healthy Japanese Words You Need to Know

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Helen Foster
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Hara Hachi Bu. Three short words that can have a big impact on your health. In rough translation, they mean ‘eat until you are eight parts full’.

In other words, do not leave the table groaning with pain because you’ve crammed in everything on your plate, get up when you’ve got room for more (top tip, if you eat mindfully and pay attention to the taste of each bite you take in this is normally just about when the food starts to taste boring).

a blue rubber hara hachi bu bracelet - the words are written on the outside

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Why Hara Hachi Bu is Good For You

Hara Hachi Bu is said to be one of the reasons why the inhabitants of the Japanese island Okinawa live so long: practising it not only helps keep weight down as you consume fewer calories than you would if you’d eaten the entire plateful of food, there’s now emerging theories that going a little bit hungry – particularly leaving a long gap of say 13-16 hours between your last meal of the evening and the first of the next day – also triggers a cascade of hormones that may protect against diseases like cancer.

It’s also been shown that taking a long break between eating your last meal of the day and the first the next day gives the microbiome (gut bacteria) of the body a rest from digesting food.

When this happens it gives those bugs a chance to carry out some of their other jobs like fighting low-grade inflammation – and the less of this you have the better.

If you want to read more about Hara Hachi Bu and how it, and other unique elements of lifestyle in Japan (and other long-living countries around the world), check out Dan Beuttner’s Blue Zone books.  which explain all about it.

How to Stick to It

Personally, I’m not very good at Hara Hachi Bu; I find it really hard to watch food going to waste.

And as the only three words I know that actually form a sentence in Japanese are ‘ni nama biru’ – which means two draft beers which probably isn’t going to help me achieve it. (I also know how to say please, thank you, hello – and both the word and characters for intestines – I figure that’ll get me round).

Why a Hara Hachi Bu Bracelet Might Help

Maybe I need one of those natty blue Hara Hachi Bu bracelets above to remind me to practise it….

In fact, when I first wrote this piece, you could buy them, but when I updated it recently I found that they were no longer available which is a shame. But I did find this one available which is a bit prettier.

Or you could just make your own for a fraction of the price with a few alphabet beads and some string.

You can buy kits containing these for just a few dollars/pounds on Amazon in black and white or colours – click here to check out the full selection.

You could…not me, it would end in a craft related disaster of Pinterest Fail proportions if I tried it!

Wearing a wristband to help keep you motivated is a well-known tactic in habit breaking – the idea is that seeing the wristband acts as an internal jog to your memory that this is a habit you want to keep up. So, go on, why not get crafty today.

If you like all things Japanese, you might want to check out some other posts we have on great Japanese health ideas.

If you feel the cold a lot, then check out this post on the Haramaki. It’s a stomach warmer and it’s amazing if you have cold hands or feet.

Trends based on health words from other countries are a big trend – and one from Japan, called Kaizen can help reduce stress and, may also help you lose weight. Have a look at what Kaizen means here. 

Lastly, Shirataki noodles are zero-calorie noodles, originally from Japan, that work brilliantly in soups and stir fries. Here’s where to find out more about them. 

Who is The Wellness Nerd?

My name is Helen Foster, and I’m a health journalist and wellness author. Publications I’ve written for include Women’s Health, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul, Good Health at the Daily Mail, and more. I have also written 16 books on health and nutrition.

3 thoughts on “What is Hara Hachi Bu: Three Healthy Japanese Words You Need to Know”

  1. Hello, this is my first time to send a message to you.
    I hope you are having good week this week.
    I’m Hiro and very interested in “Hara hachi bu” wristband.
    Where can I get this natty blue wristband?

    I have to try this ” Hara hachi bu” diet!

    Thank you for your kindess.

    Best regards,

    • Sorry Hiro, looks like the company that sold them has closed down. Their facebook page has gone as well. They may still be on twitter @mindlessproduct you could try asking them there.

      • Thank you for trying to get that wristband for me, Helen!
        I’ll ask the company you’ve contacted.
        I appreciated!!

        I’m always interested to read your columns.

        Best regards,

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