Even yesterday morning we were probably still swearing off food or at least had rededicated ourselves to a diet. But as the Chad and Jeremy song goes … “that was yesterday, and yesterday’s gone.” Now we’re hungry again, and all our misery is gone and with it our resolve to do better.
Overindulging during the holidays is just the tip of the American “More is Better” iceberg. Many, if not most, of us have the “more is better” mentality, especially if we get a great savings on buying more, even if we don’t need more or won’t use more. Hence … the big box stores … where you can get a lot of everything.
But most of us don’t need a lot of everything … or anything.
Please note that I am a happy consumer of one of the most popular big box stores in the world, and I love my savings … and multiple pairs of shorts in every color … even the color that looks hideous on me (or I in it). BUT, I have also bought huge bags of salad mix that have gone bad, bags of potato chips that have gone stale before I could get through them (if you can imagine that), and boxes of cans of mushrooms for which I have no recipes (plus I don’t cook much), their sell by dates now years past. I have more socks in my drawer than I could wear in a year, and just found ten reams of paper that have absorbed moisture because I had to store them in the garage … and then forgot they were there!
I was reading in a special edition of National Geographic about the Blue Zones, those communities in the world that live the longest. It is a fantastic read, and the secrets are more than just dietary (there are nine primary factors) but one small dietary tidbit about the people of Okinawa, Japan, intrigued me.
Before they eat, they murmur three words ––“Hara hachi bu, a 2,500-year-old Confucian adage that reminds Okinawans to stop eating when their stomach is 80 percent full.” The logic is that it takes “20 minutes for the feeling of fullness to travel from your stomach to your brain” so it helps remind them to be aware of that growing feeling of fullness and stop early –– and let their brain catch up (page 48).
Perhaps we should apply this Okinawan practice of stopping at 80 percent in all the areas of our lives in which we tend to overindulge. Buy only four pairs of shorts instead of five. Say only 80 percent of what we really want to say instead of letting it all out. And of course eating only 80 percent of what’s in front of us rather than the entire plate. How much healthier and wealthier might we be?