Lose Weight Without Feeling Hungry

Drop excess pounds with this expert-recommended dieting technique

haru hachi bu diet

Photo by: Getty Images/Johner

Try hara hachi bu People living on the Okinawa Islands off Japan enjoy exceptionally long and healthy lives. One reason may be that they practice a form of calorie moderation called hara hachi bu, which means, basically, “leave the table when you’re 80 percent full.”

Not convinced? Well, this cultural wisdom is scientifically on target, says Bradley J. Willcox, M.D., a Hawaii-based expert in geriatric medicine and co-investigator of the Okinawa Centenarian Study. When food enters your stomach, the internal stretch receptors help relay a message to your brain telling it you’re full. But this is no instant message—it takes 20 minutes to arrive. “You actually feel fuller 20 minutes after you put down your fork,” says Dr. Willcox. That means if you eat till you’re 100 percent full at the dinner table, you go over capacity at each meal. Worse, because your stomach stretches every time you do this, you’ll gradually have to eat more and more to feel satisfied.

Eat mindfully Slowing your pace can also help your brain catch up with your stomach. In one study, women who took half an hour to eat a pasta lunch consumed almost 70 fewer calories than those who scarfed it down in nine minutes. Paying attention to the taste, texture, and smell of food will help your body register satisfaction.

Stop the music Turn off the tunes at mealtime. People linger at the dining table when there’s background music—any tempo or volume. And the longer you spend at the table, the more likely you’ll be tempted to have another bite or serving.

Watch out for sneak-eating The “I just want a taste” mentality (of pie, ice cream, pizza...) can add about 25 calories per mouthful. Taste enough times a day, and you’ll undermine your efforts to cut calories.

Chew gum while cooking Not that it replaces exercise, but gum chewing actually burns 11 calories an hour (every little bit helps!). Plus, it can prevent you from taking those sneaky “taste test” bites.

Remember your last meal Thinking about what you ate earlier in the day may make you inclined to eat less as the day wears on. When British researchers fed 47 women a midday meal, then three hours later asked them to write about their meal or their morning commute, those who savored the memory of their lunch ate a third less food later in the day than the women who reminisced about their a.m. travel.