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Blue Zones Project — North Hawaii

Updated: 
August 18, 2017 - 12:40am

Residents living in the original Blue Zones areas share common lifestyle habits called Power 9. Eating mindfully is one of them.

People who live in Okinawa, Japan have a positive strategy when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. They call it “Hara hachi bu,” which means to stop eating when you are 80 percent full. Studies show that cutting back on calories can lead to better heart health, longevity and weight loss. In fact, losing just 10 percent of your body weight offers significant health benefits, such as lower blood pressure and cholesterol, which can reduce your risk of heart disease.

Many of us tend to gain weight not by stuffing ourselves too full, but by eating a little bit too much each day without even thinking about it. In Hawaii, we all have that grandma that offers us food every few minutes or the aunty that always has the best snacks.

Use these easy tips to eat more mindfully when offered snacks and plate lunches:

1. Downsize your dinnerware. The size of the plates and glasses we use has an impact on how much we eat. Try using smaller plates and tall, narrow glasses. You’re more likely to eat significantly less without even thinking about it.

2. Enjoy soup-er nutrition. Nutritious soups can boost your health and your weight management efforts. Fiber-rich veggies help you feel fuller so you eat less, while giving your body the nutrients it needs.

3. Snack on nuts. Enjoying a handful of nuts can be healthy. They’re a source of important vitamins and minerals and heart-healthy fats. Studies have shown that eating nuts may reduce your risk of heart disease and could even increase your longevity.

4. Eat an early, light dinner. Eat a light dinner early in the evening to give your body plenty of time to digest the food before going to bed. This practice may promote better sleep during the night and a lower BMI.

Generally, it’s beneficial to slow down and be mindful of your food. Practice hara hachi bu and remind yourself to stop at 80 percent daily. Many of us eat while on the run, or sitting in front of the computer or the TV, so we don’t always notice what we’re eating or how fast we’re consuming it. Make it a habit to sit down and savor the tastes and textures of what you’re eating. You’ll slow down, eat less and enjoy your food more.

Want to learn more about healthy habits and Blue Zones Project events, such as cooking demonstrations? Contact me at CarolR.Ignacio@healthways.com or call me at 202-4958 and get started with the Blue Zones Project Individual Pledge.

For more information on Blue Zones Project, visit Hawaii.bluezonesproject.com.

Blue Zones Project – North Hawaii involves dozens of community volunteers from Waimea, Waikoloa, North Kohala, Kawaihae, Puako and Hamakua who are dedicated to helping us all “Live Longer, Better.” North Hawaii is one of only eight communities in the state selected as a Blue Zones Project demonstration site. Blue Zones Project is brought to Hawaii by HMSA.

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