Guest Post: Getting Back To Goodness By Slowing Down, Mindful Eating, & Ice Cream Sundaes

This guest post is by Brooke Benlifer.

In case you’re new to The Wellness Bucket and haven’t met Brooke yet, she’s our dedicated Dietitian here at The Wellness Bucket.

This is her seventh installment this year of her Back To Goodness Series.

It’s time to slow it down, eat mindfully, AND enjoy ice cream sundaes too! 🙂


All part of Brooke’s master plan in helping us get back to goodness.

Thanks so much for being here Brooke… Take it away!


Thanks Mike!

Hey everyone! This month, I’ll be discussing building upon our past two “challenge” goals.

One was to prepare at least one home cooked meal each day and the other which was to build in at least 20 minutes of movement each day.

Read More About Challenge One

Read More About Challenge Two

Now that you’ve got those under your belt, let’s jump right into this month’s theme: Hara Hachi Bu.

Hara Hachi what?

I figured you might ask. 🙂


What’s Hara Hachi?

Hara Hachi Bu is a Confucian term meaning, “Eat until you are 80% full.

The traditional Okinawan diet encourages many vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fruit and fish.

The Okinawan’s reportedly have the highest number of centenarians (people who live to be at least 100 years of age) proportionate to their population.

The Okinawan’s traditionally follow the Hara Hachi Bu principle and it is believed that this template, in addition to other dietary practices, influences the phenomenal longevity seen among these people.

Let’s face it, in today’s society, where we are told to multitask and eat on the go, practicing Hara Hachi Bu seldom happens.

Many of us eat fast and consume foods that mess with our body’s natural appetite regulation systems.

Sugary, processed foods keep us coming back for more and it’s easy to find ourselves feeling uncomfortably full or even stuffed.

This month, let’s take back the reins and practice Hara Hachi Bu.


How To Practice Hara Hachi Bu


1) Meditate Or Take A Few Deep Breaths Right Before Eating

Meditation, yoga, or really any mindfulness practice, puts us in touch with true, physical hunger (stomach growling, etc.) vs. false hunger (boredom, stress, etc.).

(Note From Mike: Watch this video to learn how to properly take deep breaths and slow yourself down in just 60 seconds)

I’ll use myself as an example here.

I began a meditation practice this past March and have been meditating every day since. I don’t have a special cushion to sit on, or anything of the sort.

I simply dedicate 10 minutes or so every day and listen to a guided meditation with my kids while they are going down for their nap.

They love it, too, and say, “Meditation on!” right before nap time. It’s really cute and a little bit hilarious at the same time.

I have found that by taking time to actually breathe and slow down, I have done the same when it comes to eating my meals.

No more eating on the run (unless truly necessary). Instead, I make meal time a ritual.

I sit down and eat without any added distractions, such as looking at social media or making phone calls, etc.

If I am feeling frenzied, I’ll just take a few deep breaths and center myself before enjoying my meal.


2) Slow The Heck Down

I know that sounds funny, but honestly, when we scarf down our food, it’s difficult to determine whether we are satisfied or just eating because the food is in front of us.

It takes a good 20 minutes or so to feel physically satiated and satisfied so when we eat very fast, we often miss this cue and unintentionally overeat.


3) Serve Yourself

Whether it’s on a plate, dish, or bowl versus eating at the counter or at the refrigerator.

Serve what you know you are hungry for, and then, when you finish that, feel free to serve yourself more if you are still hungry.


4) Work To Differentiate Between Satisfied And Full

The difference can be subtle, but it has significant consequences, not only for your overall weight management, but also for health and optimal digestion.

Chewing your food well also gives you time to assess when you’ve eaten enough.

If these tasks seem daunting, start with just one meal a day and practice Hara Hachi Bu.

Certain foods lend themselves to this principle because they are inherently satiating.

Such foods include apples, vegetables (especially when combined with some fat and/or protein), salad with chickpeas, tuna or chicken salad, potatoes and sweet potatoes and winter squash, Greek yogurt or Kefir, hard cheeses, nuts, avocado, beans, beef, chicken, seafood, and cottage cheese.

(Note From Mike: For lots of great food pictures, suggestions, and recipes, be sure to follow Brooke on Instagram)


Bonus: Lift The Food Restrictions This Summer!

Instead of thinking about what you “can’t have” and looking at food from a dieting perspective, re-frame your mindset and focus on packing in more nutrition by eating healthy, healing, and delicious real foods.

Stop dieting and start nourishing and fueling your body with foods that make you feel good.

Think of how certain foods makes you feel in that very moment.

For example, an ice cream sundae that tastes awesome right then as well as how it makes you feel afterwards, perhaps fatigued a few hours later or less energetic to workout the following day.

When we tune in to what we truly enjoy, it will generally be the foods that nourish us.

There’s always a time and place for an ice cream sundae.

(Note From Mike: I could not agree more with you Brooke! 🙂 )

There’s no need to restrict any particular food group or food. Enjoy it all and aim to pack in more of the whole foods, which will automatically leave less room for the not so whole foods.

Savor it, get outside, make the most of your summer, and most importantly…

Get back to goodness!


BrookeBenlifer1Brooke Joanna Benlifer, RD is a Cornell University graduate and Registered Dietitian. She currently lives in San Diego with her husband and twins.

“My passion is preventative health through optimal nutrition. I want to lead people toward healthier, more fulfilling lives.”


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