20% white space

by | Motivational Mondays

“The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.”

― Robert Frost

Do you ever finish a meal and think “that was good, but I could go for a little more?”

This happens to me regularly.  I pack my lunch most days of the week, including the hiking adventures on Saturday. I typically make a salad because I find them versatile, convenient and delicious. The salad includes some sort of green leafy vegetable, tomato, avocado or leftover veggies, a protein such as tuna salad, hard-boiled egg or chicken. Always with fruit on the side or included on top! As well as, some sort of dressing – typically a homemade honey mustard or balsamic vinaigrette. 

I typically feel about 80 to 90% full when I’m done with my lunch. The salads are filling and appropriately portioned but sometimes I want that last little nibble at the end of the meal. Almost without fail, I’ll have an appointment or some other activity to go do after lunch and within 20 to 30 minutes I notice that I’m actually 100% full and satisfied. 

In Okinawa, Japan they have one of the highest population of centenarians – people over 100 – at about 50 per 100,000 people [1].  The population practices a self-imposed calorie-restriction, which some researchers believe contributes to their longevity. The Okinawan elders ask their bodies to stop them from eating after they become 80% full, which is called hara hachi bun me.

At first, I thought this sounded odd, but upon further observation, it actually makes a lot of sense. It takes, on average, approximately 20 minutes for your stomach to tell the brain that it’s had enough to eat. 

This is where the 20% white space rule was born as depicted in the Well-Balanced Plate. In our American food culture, it’s pretty easy to overeat. The portions are oversized and the restaurants aren’t shy with the added fats, sugars, and salt to keep us coming back for more. 

Food for thought: 

There are many ways to put the 20% white space idea into practice: 

  • Order an appetizer for your meal
  • Choose a salad plate to serve dinner on
  • Put the fork or spoon down between each bite
  • Share an entree with a friend or family member 
  • Wait 15-20 minutes after finishing the first plate before getting seconds 

 Which works best for you? 

Recipe of the Week: Banana Pancakes the Easy Way

It’s almost back-to-school time! In honor of this fun and transitional time of year, I’m including my most favorite breakfast from my childhood – banana pancakes! 

This week’s recipe, Banana Pancakes the Easy Wayis brought to you by the allrecipes.com.

*Note: I suggest nut butter instead of syrup to add protein and reduce sugar.  I use 1/2 whole wheat or oat flour and 1/2 all-purpose. 

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