Eat wisely with ‘the 80 percent rule’
Blue Zones learned residents of Okinawa, Japan, have a smart strategy for maintaining a healthy weight: Before meals they say “hara hachi bu,” which means to stop eating when you’re 80 percent full.
Studies show that cutting back on calories can lead to better health, longevity, and weight loss. By practicing hara hachi bu, a person can:
• Mindlessly cut 20 percent of his or her caloric intake;
• Lower blood pressure and cholesterol;
• Reduce the risk of heart disease.
Though some people gain weight by stuffing themselves too full, most people gain 10 pounds every 10 years by eating just a little bit too much every day without even thinking about it.
Blue Zones organizers are offering five easy ways to cut back on calories and eat more mindfully:
• Downsize dinnerware. The size of plates and glasses can actually cause weight gain. Try using 10-inch plates and tall narrow glasses to consume significantly less, without even thinking about it.
• Soup’s on! Nutritious soups with fiber-rich vegetables leave a person feeling full and satisfied and can boost health and weight-loss efforts, too.
• Snack on nuts. A handful of nuts gives a person a dose of vitamins, minerals and heart-healthy fats. Studies show eating nuts may reduce the risk of heart disease and could increase a person’s lifespan.
• Eat an early, light dinner. By eating a light dinner earlier in the evening, a person gives his or her body plenty of time to digest the food before bed. This practice not only promotes better sleep, but can even lower body mass index. To learn more about a healthy BMI, visit www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing.
• Slow down and be mindful of the food. Instead of eating on the run or in front of the computer or TV, sit down at a table to enjoy the food. Learn to savor a meal, become aware of what is being consuming, and as a result, eat less.
Blue Zones Project is a community-by-community well-being improvement initiative designed to make healthy choices easier through permanent changes.
Fairfield is one of 19 Blue Zones Project demonstration sites in Iowa. Fairfield and the other demonstration communities are receiving assistance from experts to develop and implement a blueprint for making permanent environmental, social and policy changes that transition people into healthier behaviors that can lead to longer, happier lives.
As a demonstration community, Fairfield needs everyone to participate and take action.
“We need your support to achieve our Blue Zones Community Certification,” said Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy. “It’s as easy as these three simple, life-changing steps.”
The steps are:
1. Go to www.bluezonesproject.com and click on “join and pledge today.” Twenty percent of the city’s population must register.
2. Select an activity or goal. It could be as easy as volunteering or walking the dog or committing to riding a bike. Hundreds of choices are available to choose to do.
3. After completing the activity, check “complete.”
Anyone who signed up before Fairfield was selected as a demonstration site needs to sign up again. The community initially responded with 37 percent of the population registering to participate in the Blue Zones Project initiative.
Ken Daley is the Blue Zones Project Fairfield team leader. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209-9893.
For information, visit the website www.bluezonesproject.com or the Fairfield Blue Zones Project Facebook page.