Well it’s over a month now, since we returned from our fantastic 10 days in Japan!
The Japanese are renowned for their longevity and good health; including so far avoiding the obesity crisis that is the scourge of so many other cultures today.
So we’ve decided to recap some likely contributing factors to this phenomenon.
Firstly, the Japanese have a diet high in fermented foods. Miso soup, pickled vegetables and fermented soy products are a daily consumable for Japanese on a traditional diet. The research into fermented foods, GIT health and the link to helping prevent overweight and obesity is very promising.
The Japanese diet is fairly low in fat. Fried foods exist but are not regularly consumed apart from specialty dishes such as tempura and some street foods.
The diet is also high in seaweeds which are high in iodine; a nutrient important for thyroid health.
The diet is also high in soy products. Good for hormonal health, bone density, anti-cancer properties and a great low-fat protein.
Portion sizes tend to be quite small. A lot of meals consist of simply small “tastes” of a variety of dishes. And the Japanese practice Hara Hachi Bu: Eat Until You Are 80% Full.
Most of us have no idea what 80 percent full feels like. We do know that if we eat until we are full, in 20 minutes we are likely to feel too full, as it takes about that long for the stomach to communicate with the brain just how full it is. But how do you tell when you are “80 percent full”?
It takes sometimes 15-20 meals to reset the muscle memory of the stomach to get used to less food and people need to trust that will happen. Most are used to eating until full, which is past satiation and which keeps weight on. We suggest eating just half of what you normally eat and then checking in to see how you feel. Once we begin to feel any stomach pressure we are at the “80 percent full” stage.
The Japanese are also quite physically active. In the cities, the majority of people seem to cycle, walk and use public transport. We saw septuagenarians still cycling and gardening frequently.
So it’s probably not a bad idea to introduce some Japanese “ways” into our daily routines.