Hara Hachibu

I am currently trying to cultivate the practice of ‘slow’ eating each mealtime.
A 35 year history of emergency nursing has left me with a dining imperative to stuff as much food into my gob as quickly as possible.

So I am playing with the Japanese concept of HARA HACHIBU or literally: gut eight parts.

This practice entails eating only until you feel about 80% full and then stopping for at least 20 minutes, until actual satiation (or complete fullness) catches up with you.

In the 1965 book Three Pillars of Zen, the author quotes Hakuun Yasutani in his lecture for zazen beginners as telling his students about the book Zazen Yojinki (Precautions to Observe in Zazen), written circa 1300, which advises practitioners to eat about two-thirds of their capacity. Yasutani advises his students to eat only eighty percent of their capacity, and he repeats a Japanese proverb: “eight parts of a full stomach sustain the man; the other two sustain the doctor”. — Wikipedia

There is typically a lag of around 20 minutes between the ingestion of food and the hormones cholecystokinin and leptin rising to a level that produces feelings of satiation in our brains.

Along with pausing at 80% fullness, it also makes sense to throttle back and take your time to eat more slowly and mindfully whilst the hormonal signals build. Making space to actually taste the food (so often missed as different flavours are piled on top of each other in a rapid feeding crescendo), and deliberately chewing until you feel a natural inclination to swallow.

My current propensity is to send my brain rushing ahead hunting and gathering my next mouthful whilst my mouth struggles to process the current bolus in time for the inbound workload.

Some sources also suggest drinking a full glass of water 10 minutes before beginning your meal and then sipping on water during the meal to assist with leveling out the eating tempo and eliciting a state of: a most satisfactory repleteness (actually a release of pleasurable dopamine) way before reaching that state of: OMG I am so totally going to explode (a release of habitual pigginess).

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