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Life happens. Sometimes good and sometimes not so good. This is an exploration of life and all that interests me. I am a therapist working in Norwich, Norfolk, UK. I'm fascinated in the world around me and how people deal with and relate to it. I like to further my knowledge of people, psychology and more. Please join me on my journey.

Sunday 3 January 2016

Want to be leaner and live (healthily) longer? Islanders of Japan may hold the key!

Do you want to be leaner and live healthily longer? 

There's a southern group of Islands in Okinawa in Japan where the elders live to a very ripe old age (the greatest proportion of centenarians in the world, according to the UN). They have a significantly lowered risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer, osteoporosis and alzheimers.  Older members of their community lead active & healthy lifestyles and also suffer less depression. After years of research there appears 2 factors behind longevity and good health of elders upon the island: 
  1. What they eat (low calories, less fats, more vegetables, fruit, fish and tofu) and 
  2. A simple, healthy lifestyle and continuing involvement in their community
Both factors we can learn a great deal from. The food eaten by Okinawan's is a traditional diet of portions of cooked food and fresh fruit. They tend to eat a lot of vegetables: seven portions of vegetables and fruits a day. Also, they consume seven portions of grains/ cereals and two of soy. They also regularly eat fish (and squid/ octopus) and tofu each week and, less frequently, meat and dairy products. 

For exercise, there are no gyms on the islands, these people work and take long walks, dance, cycle, tend their gardens, practice tai chi and martial arts (and that's just those aged over 90!) There is a strong sense of community and mutual support within the Islands too. I totally agree with the two factors and the philosophy for good health for a healthy retirement. 
There is a third factor that I have read about. It seems rather important to me, as a person interested in reducing obesity and in helping others with weight management.  This is the third factor, based on Confucian philosophy, that is widely adopted within the Islands: 

  • "Eat until you are 80% full"  

The expression "Hara hachi bun me" (or "hara hachi bu") sometimes mis-spelled "hari hachi bu". Roughly translated the Japanese phrase is “Eat until you are eight parts (out of ten) full” or “belly 80 percent full”.

If, like me, you remember being told to 'finish your plate' before leaving the school/ home dinner table, this may take a little getting used to! Our western habits mean we're trained to over-eat, stretching our stomachs with food, partly because of the ingrained unconscious 'fear' of leaving food on our plate. 

It is believed by eating their diet and stopping eating at 80% full assists in keeping islanders Body Mass Index low. It has been documented to delaying the stomach stretch receptors that help signal feeling full. Perhaps our 'feeling full switch is off' or we confuse the signals of feeling thirsty with hunger. Either way, learning to mentally recognise when we are becoming 80% full, and training ourselves to stop eating, may be useful for losing weight. 

Turning off distractions when you eat, television and computers and smart phones, enables you to concentrate on your food too. Then mind, taste buds and stomach really connect. When you think and feel you are reaching 80% full, push the plate away. Can't do any harm, can it? You might lose a few pounds in the process too.  


Facebook for HypnoShape: HypnoShape weight reduction programme
About the Author: Angie works as a hypnotherapist, counsellor and coach at the Norfolk Clinic Complementary Healthcare Clinic, 38-40 Magdalen Road, Norwich, NR3 4AG. 
Call Angie directly on 07773 610816 or email info@angiegiles.co.uk 
Angie offers a free initial consultation to find out more. 

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