What is it About the Japanese Diet that Can Determine Longevity?In Japan, food is viewed upon on a level quite unfamiliar to the Western World. Often we eat on the run, grabbing a snack bar while we rush out the door, stopping for a ‘quick bite’ at the nearest drive through without contemplating the nutritional benefits and health risks. While this is being exercised, the Japanese sit down as a family, presenting their traditional food of modest portions on individual beautifully decorated porcelain bowls and plates. The action of sitting down with wonderfully presented food encourages real food enjoyment. As they savior and take pleasure in their food, they take turns having little tastes of everything, therefore enjoying it whilst slowly consuming their dishes. This gives the brain time to contemplate satiety. In turn, encouraging less eating as the body realises it’s full.
Research demonstrates that when we are served more food on a bigger plate, we tend to eat it, whether or not that was the intention. The majority of us are accustomed to eat what is on our plates, so the smaller the plate, the smaller the helping. The secret is to replace a large dinner plate with a salad or desert plate – the makes your plate look full and you will end up eating less, without even realizing because your plate will look just as full!
What Exactly Does the Japanese Diet Consist of?
- Rice: The Japanese diet embraces rice. A small bowl is included in every meal. This includes breakfast!
- Vegetables: The Japanese love their vegetables. A common dish is vegetables simmered in seasoned miso soup. Vegetables included in their diet are capsicum, zucchini, green beans, onions, tomatoes, eggplant, lettuce carrots, spinach, bamboo shoots, shiitake mushrooms, and seaweed. Their diet will include four or five different varieties in a single meal. This includes for breakfast!
- Fish: Fish, fish and more fish - the fattier the better, providing more omega 3 fatty acids! Their favourites include fresh tuna, salmon and mackerel. In fact their high proportion of fish naturally decreases the amount of red meat they consume.
- Soy: When consumed in moderation and in the traditional fermented form, soy is beneficial to health. Japanese meals often include miso, tofu, tempe.
Desserts and Beautiful FoodIn the Western World, we envisage chocolate mousse, ice cream and cakes when the word ‘dessert’ is mentioned. In Japan people enjoy colourful seasonal fruits, peeled and sliced and arranged on a beautiful porcelain plate. A cup of green tea is served at the end of the meal providing antioxidants.
We can see that the Japanese deserve to live healthy, happy and long lives. Their well proportioned, beautifully presented food is bursting with colour and health benefits with an approach that celebrates food and where it comes from. They celebrate food by living in harmony with nature and consume according to the seasons and as close to its natural state as possible. Their servings are also 1-half the size of typical Western portions.
For recipes and advice on how to adapt a healthy lifestyle, contact a nutritionist or naturopath.