Eating until you’re close, but not completely full, may help you live a longer, healthier life.
Lately, I’ve been experimenting with splitting my dinner into two meals. I’ve found that eating ¾ of my food prior to the “red light time,” followed by the remaining ¼ after my television segment is done leaves me sharper and more energetic.
This likely has to do with digestion. The thermic effect of food is essentially the amount of energy used by your body to digest, absorb and make waste of the food you ingest. Obviously then, the more energy currently being used in digestion, the less energy is available to focus on the task at hand.
My aforementioned personal experience at work inspired me to explore the idea that eating a slightly smaller meal may produce other benefits. I found Okinawa.
The indigenous people of the Ryuku Islands, Okinawa in particular, are best known for having the world’s longest life expectancy. Theses folks have a rule known as “Hara Hachi Bu,” which essentially translates as eat until you’re 80% full. They generally enjoy better health than we western cats do. From okinawa-diet.com:
In Okinawa, Heart Disease rates are 80% lower, and stroke rates lower than in the US. Cholesterol levels are typically under 180, homocystein levels are low and blood pressure at goal levels. Rates of cancer are 50-80% lower – especially breast, colon, ovarian and prostate cancer. Hip fractures are 20% lower than mainland Japanese and 40% lower than in the US. Dementia is rare.
I’m not suggesting that by splitting up our meals a little more, we’ll cure all of our health problems, nor do I suggest you follow the diet that site advocates. However, slowing down our meals and being more present while eating them simply makes sense. The “stretch receptors” in our stomachs take roughly 20 minutes to signal to our brains that we’ve ingested enough. That delay means we often get the signal to hit the brakes on the shoveling later than we need. Additionally, taking a break from cramming in more food gives the hormones in our digestive system time to work. From Harvard Health:
leptin, produced by fat cells, is an adiposity signal that communicates with the brain about long-range needs and satiety, based on the body’s energy stores. Research suggests that leptin amplifies the CCK signals, to enhance the feeling of fullness. Other research suggests that leptin also interacts with the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain to produce a feeling of pleasure after eating. The theory is that, by eating too quickly, people may not give this intricate hormonal cross-talk system enough time to work.
I eat fast. Too fast. Clearly, it would serve me well to slow down. Consequently, I’ll still be producing posts at kaplifestyle.com when I’m 100 years old. That thought makes me tired.