IntroductionWe need to learn to listen to the cues of our body. This is because our body knows how to be at its best. Savour the meals individually and mindfully by just listening to these cues. This will help us to feel lighter and we will have more vibrant energy. When we stop eating at 80% full, we will be providing enough by catering to the real needs of our mind and body. When we stuff in more than required, we get weighed down and always feel tired and sleepy. Our body needs to work in shifts to metabolize and process everything that goes in it. Eating mindfully means to dine without pigging out. This is the mantra for living a healthy and vibrant life. Health does not come to those who eat mindlessly. We have to eat in right amounts and at right time intervals to achieve optimal health benefits.
Eating until 80% full in real senseEating until 80% full does not encourage wastefulness. It does not mean to waste 20% of food on plate. In Japan, the portions are much smaller when compared to other countries. Also, chopsticks prevent shoveling of the food inside mouth and encourages slower pace of eating which buys lots of time for brain to send that satiated signal. If we deeply analyze the whole technique, we will realize that we become more satisfied with food if we stop eating at 80% full. We are not levied with that discomfort feeling which develops when we eat 100% full. We do not feel tired or sleepy after our meals and this way can enjoy our meals in a better way. Know more about this technique here Effective calorie restriction method
Why to stop eating when the stomach is 80% fullWe need to save a little room for the water as well as for expansion of the gases. This will all facilitate digestion. We cannot pack ourselves, leaving no room for essentials. Water is essential for hydration and gases are essential to facilitate digestion. We create such a situation where our stomach has left out of all the options and all it has to do is to expand. The more we binge, the more stomach stretches out. This will lead to increased appetite. This in turn will lead to over eating and putting on lots of weight. This will ultimately take the form of a vicious cycle where we indulge in over eating and gaining weight. In certain individuals, weight gain does not follow over eating and this is because their metabolism is high. Even in their cases, all the food they consume never gets used up. A part of food which is required is used up and the rest is often thrown out in the toilet. Also, indigestion, constipation and acid re-flux which result in them deteriorates their health.
Cultural aspectsDifferent cultures around the world too preach eating only when body sends signals of hunger and stopping as soon as satisfied. All the living beings right from birth are programmed to listen to these signals. However, we just unleash this and keep filling our sack. Our physiology is the one which can regulate our diet very well. Our ancestors used to eat when they felt hunger and stopped as soon as hunger was satisfied. However, we do not follow them today. Our appetite impulses are out of control. We can only maintain a healthy weight and healthy body if we follow the footsteps of our ancestors. We need to tune with fullness cues our mind and body send us. If these cues are left unheard then both weight and health suffers drastically. Not only in Japan, but Ayurveda teaches to eat only until 75% full. Chinese prefer eating until 70% full whereas excess eating is considered to be a sinful act in Islamic religion. We should not eat until we become full rather should cultivate the habit of eating until we are no longer left hungry.
HomeostasisHomeostasis is body's own secret equipment. Our body is very well designed to keep every thing in order. It likes things to remain same. This is known as homeostasis. When everything remain same, everything is fine. However, when there is interruption in homeostasis, body takes control and imposes self regulation so that everything gets back on track. When we use up our food supply and nutrients are lost, body sends signals to eat. When body sends signals that nutrients are replenished then these signals mean that we should stop eating. To achieve good health, we need to learn to listen to these signals and honor them. We cannot disrespect these signals. Suppose if we eat when body does not send hunger signals then we end up eating more because then we are eating not to satisfy our hunger, but to feel better. It is a sort of distraction we are creating. If we do not eat when hunger strikes us then body cranks up our hunger signals and cover our satiety signals. This will lead to over binging.
Learn body signals to eat until 80% fullTo learn body signals, we need to eat our typical meal and then tune in to analyze how we actually feel immediately after our meal and every hour after that. If we have eaten for good health then immediately after finishing our meal we will be left with a feeling of slight hunger, but overall satisfied. Since our brain run a few minutes behind our stomach, it requires at least 20 minutes to send the signals to the gut that hunger is satisfied. One hour after eating our meal, we feel fully contented and no longer desire to eat anything. After couple of hours, slight hunger strikes again, but still we are not able to eat any big real meal. We can only manage to eat few bites. However, if real hunger strikes then this is the signal that couple of hours back we did not give our body enough food. After at almost 3 to 4 hours, hunger should be strong as the food we provided to our body is almost used up and body needs nutrients to replenish back the lost ones and thus it sends hunger signals. If we still do not feel any hunger then it is a sign that meal which we ate 3 hours back was too heavy and thus it is high time that we start eating light meal quality wise or reduce it in quantity. After 4 hours, hunger signals become very strong and we reach a stage where we can eat up anything that comes in front of us, but optimal health only comes to them who makes the right choices in food selection and eat them in right amount and at right time intervals. One thing to note here is that feeling slightly hungry in between meals is a healthy sign. However, if we are eating every 3-4 hours without any sign of hunger then we are putting in too much calories in our body.
Goal of eating until 80% fullMain goal of eating until 80% full is to make us feel better after we have finished our meal. Within us pleasure strikes cause we have satisfied our hunger. At the same time we have not overstuffed ourselves. This will avoid arrival of sleepy feeling and thus we will continue our work efficiently. We leave a room for water and for the gases which allow us to hydrate and facilitate digestion respectively. Eating until 80% full helps us to move on. Since we are satisfied, we do not think about the food until our body sends hunger signals to us. We have supplied our body with enough food which it will metabolize and the resulting nutrients will keep us active and energetic for next few hours. We are allowed to concentrate on work with complete focus as 80% full will neither allow us to experience the feeling of under eating nor over eating. Eating in right amount will facilitate efficient functioning of all the organs and will help in improvement of overall health.
ConclusionEating until 80% full will help us appreciate food in a better way and we will be able to understand its value. We no longer will be in hurry to finish our plate, but instead will learn to eat mindfully at a slower pace, properly chewing everything to facilitate better digestion. We will then eat to satisfy our hunger and not for any other reason. This practice restricts calorie intake and helps to lose weight. It reduces binging and treats episodes related to emotional eating. We will no longer remain obsessed with our food. If we continue eating even after hunger is satisfied then it will lead to eating 100% full and sometimes even beyond that. Eating until 80% full is a constructive style where we listen to our body and honor it. Eating when hungry and stopping when hunger is satisfied itself is eating until 80% full.
I enjoyed the reading of this article. Eating less than appetite is a good habit. We should inculcate this habit to be healthy. Over eating leads to obesity slowly.
Cues sent by our body when satiated should be read properly. They are known as satiety cues. We need to learn them with deep analysis because it involves trial and error. Level and intensity of hunger we experience will be dependent on the quality and quantity of food we consume along with the intensity of exercise/activity we perform.
To stop eating at 80% full and avoid stuffing in for 100% or beyond that, we need to understand physical, mental and emotional aspects of ours. We need to learn to read our physical signs like headache, shaky feeling or stomach growling from inside which surely are stating that we need to eat. Stuffed feeling is experienced when we have overeaten. Mentally if we are asking ourselves whether we really have to eat then definitely it is an indication that we are not hungry. Sometimes we get upset on missing a meal. This is the time when we have to give it a thought and think twice. We have to find out what really made us upset. Was it hunger or we were upset just because our routine got disrupted? Even eating for emotional reasons to get away from sadness, anxiety, stress and tension will prevent us from eating until 80% full.
Yesterday I attended an event. An eminent person who is qualified and experienced in practising and teaching Yoga was a speaker there. According to him, we should eat only 50%. 25% we should fill by drinking water. The remaining 25% should be kept free. He said that if we practise that we will be free from all illness and will be of normal health and energy. He credited this to the traditional Indian knowledge from the Vedas and Ayurveda and Yoga.