People make more than 200 food decisions every day, and what we eat impacts our health and productivity. Since the early 1900s, common plate sizes have grown from 9.5 inches to 12.5 inches, and we’ve increased how much we eat by 27 percent. About 60 percent of the food we purchase is highly processed, fatty, salty, or sugary, and the typical American restaurant entrée weighs in at a whopping 1,000 calories!
Blue Zones Project® programs have sparked large and small changes across an array of spaces that make healthy food choices more enticing and accessible. By working together, we make eating wisely second nature, encouraging people to adopt a plant slant approach to meals, eat only until 80 percent full, and dine with wine at five.
Power up your well-being by adding a plant slant to your plate. While most people in the blue zones areas only consume small amounts of meat on rare occasions, all of them eat a rich array of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are packed with disease-fighting nutrients. Beans, nuts, and whole grains round out a life-lengthening plant-based diet. (Did you know that snacking on a handful of nuts every day can give you an extra 2–3 years of life expectancy?) Aim to fill 95 percent of your plate with plants or plant products.
Think about the difference between “I’m full” versus “I’m no longer hungry.” Do what the centenarians do and gauge your intake by following the 80% Rule. It’s a strategy that focuses on taking things out of your everyday diet instead of putting things in. Saying “Hara hachi bu”—the 2,500-year-old Confucian mantra—before meals reminds Okinawans to stop eating when their stomachs are 80-percent full. The 20-percent gap between not being hungry and feeling full could be the difference between losing weight or gaining it.
Wine at Five
People in the original blue zones (except Adventists in Loma Linda, California) drink alcohol moderately. Provided you have a healthy relationship with alcohol, you can drink up to 1–2 glasses per day (preferably antioxidant-packed Sardinian Cannonau wine), with friends and/or with food. It is not only the antioxidants found in the wine that benefit your health, but also those friends and family that surround you during Wine at Five.