80% Full ⭑ How To Begin

I’ve seen people do the craziest diets… I, personally, have tried some weird things. When it comes to weight loss, though, it really is simple. Portion size is one of the biggest factors. What does that mean? Well, it means different things to different people and only once you are ready, willing, and able to try to experiment will you know what portion size is right for you. I tell people to eat until you are 80% full. That’s a hard concept to grasp. I’m going to spend the next few weeks trying to bring this to life for you. I feel like this is such an important concept in lifestyle and nutrition when it comes to overall health and weight loss that I want to make sure you understand, feel,  and have guidelines and tangible ideas on how to begin to approach eating to 80% full.

We’ve talked about the importance of slowing down and being mindful when eating. This allows our hormones to tell us when we are full. Remember that once we start eating, it takes around 20 minutes for those hormones in our gut to reach our brain and tell us we are full. We not only allow the hormonal response to feeling full play out the way it should, we begin to think about what we are eating as we slow down and become more mindful, and thus we make better food decisions overtime.

Once you have mastered this behavior of slowing down, it’s time to start thinking about paying close attention to that feeling of fullness. One of the strongest links to longevity is the ability to not overeat. There are many studies that show cultures that don’t overeat have less obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, and they live longer. The Japanese practice hara hachi bu, eating until 80% full. We were all programmed from birth to eat when hungry and stop when satiated. We have, however, unlearned this behavior in certain cultures that have food readily available and specifically foods that are highly palatable and addicting. We can go back to the basics to re-learn what we were programmed to do: eat to 80% full. Here is a simple place to begin:

  • Give yourself permission to eat when you are hungry. This should be every 2-4 hours.

  • Eat for physical reasons and not habitual reasons. For example, late at night watching TV, you most likely eat potato chips not because you are actually hungry but because it’s a habit.

  • Rely on internal hunger cues and satiety cues to guide you. Don’t rely on how full your belly feels. You’ll have to slow down and be mindful.


NutritionAaron Leventhal