hara hachi bu

Wear Blue as a Reminder to Hara Hachi Bu

 

Hara hachi bu is the age-old practice of stopping eating when our stomachs are 80 percent full. This practice may seem rather simple, but it can actually have a large impact on health and longevity. For instance, hara hachi bu is widely used in Okinawa, Japan, one of the original blue zones where people are known for living longer, healthier lives. In fact, research has shown that women in Okinawa live three times longer than they do elsewhere in the world.

Many older residents of Okinawa say the words “hara hachi bu” out loud before they eat a meal as a blessing and also as a reminder to stop eating before they are too full. According to Blue Zones founder Dan Buettner, “This cultural practice and calorie restriction and mindful eating is part of the reason that Okinawa has a higher percentage of centenarians than anywhere else in the world.”

This cultural practice and calorie restriction and mindful eating is part of the reason that Okinawa has a higher percentage of centenarians than anywhere else in the world. —@thedanbuettner Click To Tweet

The average Okinawan consumes less than 2,000 calories per day, yet National Geographic reported that the average person in the United States consumed a whopping 3,641 calories daily in 2011. We ranked fourth in the world in calorie consumption per person that year, while the daily caloric intake in Japan was 2,717 and 2,870 in the world at large the same year.

The average Okinawan consumes less than 2,000 calories per day, yet National Geographic reported that the average person in the United States consumed a whopping 3,641 calories daily in 2011. Click To Tweet

With so many extra calories consumed on a regular basis, it’s no wonder 40 percent of Americans are obese and suffer debilitating diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity puts us at higher risk for heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

With so many extra calories consumed on a regular basis, it’s no wonder 40 percent of Americans are obese and suffer debilitating diseases. Click To Tweet

If you’re participating in the Blue Zones Challenge or Blue Zones Life Plan or are just interested in becoming healthier, one of our Week 1 recommendations is to wear a blue bracelet or another piece of jewelry as a visual cue to practice hara hachi bu. When estimating how to eat 80 percent, it typically amounts to about two-thirds of the food you would typically eat to feel full.

When estimating how to eat 80 percent, it typically amounts to about two-thirds of the food you would typically eat to feel full. Click To Tweet

A simple reminder such as a blue bracelet can encourage you to eat less, and small changes in the amount you eat every day can help promote weight loss and improved health. Using smaller plates and eating food more slowly are other ways to promote eating less that can work well in conjunction with hara hachi bu. Eating your food slowly can make you more conscious of what you are eating and more aware of when you have eaten enough.

Do Visual Cues Really Work?

If you’re taking the Blue Zones Challenge, wearing a blue bracelet or other blue jewelry such as a ring or watch as a reminder to hara hachi bu is part one of your weekly tasks. Because the jewelry is blue, it’s easy to form an association between the piece of jewelry you see to the Blue Zones and Blue Zones Power 9® principles like hara hachi bu.

According to research, visual cues can be very powerful tools to remind us to take certain actions, especially when we lack self-control or just forget to follow through with our intentions when opportunities arise to change our behavior. For instance, when we sit down to eat a meal, we may simply forget that we intended to stop eating when we were 80 percent full without a visual to remind us of our intention to do so.

Our brains are to a large extent visual processors which is why concrete visual cues are so much more powerful than words when it comes to learning and remembering.

Choose the Perfect Blue Bracelet for Hara Hachi Bu

When choosing your bracelet (whether you purchase or make it yourself), look for a style that’s comfortable for wearing on your wrist all day. You may even want to buy several styles, from casual to dressier, to wear for different occasions or for different times of the day. If you work on a computer during the day, for example, you may want a bracelet made of leather or softer material that’s flexible, so it doesn’t get in your way when using a keyboard. Or when you work out, you may want a style that’s lightweight and won’t become damaged by moisture.

To help you in your search for the perfect blue bracelet for hara hachi bu, here are some styles that we love across a broad range of price points, from very affordable to higher-end. There are even some DIY options if you want to make your own bracelet or make a bunch to encourage your friends and family to also adopt the Blue Zones lifestyle.

Joycuff Morse Code Bracelet

This unique “Bad Ass Blue” bracelet costs less than $20 and includes a secret message that’s written in morse code with its dot- and dash-shaped, stainless-steel beads. It’s handmade of eco-friendly materials and is fully adjustable from 5” to 8”. We think it’s the ideal blue bracelet for daily wear.

WINNICACA Cuff Bracelet

This trendy cuff bracelet is available with blue stones and an inspirational message. It has a sterling silver finish and is hypoallergenic. It’s simple enough to wear all day with jeans but dressy enough to add the perfect amount of bling to your outfit for an evening out.

Pura Vida Muted Bracelet

This casual Pura Vida string bracelet is perfect for summer and suitable for everyone. It’s handmade, waterproof, and has an adjustable slipknot. Pura Vida jewelry supports charities worldwide, provides jobs to artisans in countries like Costa Rica, and embraces the Costa Rican “pura vida” philosophy of living a pure life.

Survival Paracord Bracelet

Not only will this multifunctional blue bracelet remind you to eat less, but it could also potentially save your life. It doubles as a tactical emergency gear kit that includes an SOS LED light, a fire starter, compass, whistle, and multitools. It’s great for those who like to hike or camp, and it comes in a two-pack so you can keep one for yourself and share the other with a friend.

Hawaiian Sea Glass Bracelet

This handcrafted Bohemian bracelet is made in Hawaii of leather cord and beautiful blue and aqua sea glass. Each adjustable, unisex bracelet is said to be one-of-a-kind and comes gift boxed with an Aloha card.

4Ocean Handmade Beaded Bracelet

Help make the world’s oceans cleaner while practicing hara hachi bu with this bracelet made of 100% certified post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. For each bracelet purchased, a pound of garbage is removed from oceans, rivers, and coastlines. The bracelet comes with a cotton gift bag, a 4Ocean sticker, and information on 4Ocean’s mission.

NOVICA Blue Topaz Cuff Bracelet

This lovely sterling silver bracelet has 3 carats of faceted blue topaz on each end. It’s handcrafted by artisans in Bali working with jewelry designer Wayan Neri. It comes in a pretty Indonesian-inspired cloth jewelry pouch.

Make a Beautiful Deep Blue Bracelet from Natural Lapis Lazuli Beads

Use a needle and elastic string to make easy blue stretch bracelets using these lovely natural polished beads made from lapis lazuli. The beads are available for less than $10 in sizes ranging from 6 to 10 mm.  

Bead Crochet a Blue Bracelet with this Etsy Kit

This kit comes with everything you need to make your own blue seed bead bracelet with an interesting geometric pattern, including the goldtone magnetic clasp.

Create a DIY Bracelet Practically for Free

Whether you’re on a tight budget or just prefer to repurpose existing items you have on hand, here are some ideas that show you how to make your own bracelets with things you may already have around the house or can obtain very inexpensively like thread and rope.

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