Home HEALTH Why Do Japanese Women Live the Longest and Don’t Get Fat?

Why Do Japanese Women Live the Longest and Don’t Get Fat?

I’m sure you’ve already heard about the longevity of Japanese men and women, mostly attributed to their food choices and life style. Traditionally, the Japanese diet has been praised for its health preserving benefits – and don’t restrict your view of the Japanese cuisine to sushi rolls.

Naomi Moriyama has decided to share the basic principles of her country’s cooking in her book ‘Japanese women don’t get old or fat’. She argues that going back to her mum’s way of food preparation helped her and her husband shed unwanted pounds and increased their energy levels.

These days, the Japanese too are experiencing challenges the modern life brings and are adopting less health-promoting foods. Nonetheless, the old wisdom is not forgotten and Naomi Moriyama’s book explains how to eat well once again.

The 7 Secrets of Japanese People for Great Health

The principles Japanese follow when they choose, prepare and eat food all play an important part in the ‘magic formula’. You’ve probably read about them before, but Moriyama summarizes them in 7 categories:

Secret #1: Diet based on fish, soy, rice, vegetables and fruit

A home cooked Japanese meal is the key to success. Forget about complicated restaurant meals that take a long time to master – a traditional meal in Japan usually consists of some grilled fish, a bit of steamed rice, simmered vegetables, a bowl of miso soup, and green tea and fruits for dessert.

(See below for some of the’ Limitations’ of these food choices).

Secret #2: Small portions

Have you noticed that the food you get in a Japanese restaurant comes in small, pleasing to the eye bowls, and it satisfies you despite the smaller portions? Presentation is important in Japan and the rule is to enjoy your food slowly. Other things that help you slow down and eat less include:

  • The plates are not completely filled.
  • Each dish is served on its own plate.
  • Food is arranged in a way to show its natural beauty and makes you stop to enjoy its esthetic elements.
  • You’re encouraged to stop eating when you’re 80% full.

Secret #3: Light cooking

Steaming, pan grilling, sautéing, simmering or quick stir-frying in a wok are used to prepare the dishes. Japanese cooks choose heart-friendly oils and avoid methods that would expose ingredients to high temperatures for a long time. Also, they enjoy fresh foods and go easy on the dressing, so you are left with a light, yet fulfilled, feeling in your stomach.

Secret #4: No bread, just rice

Japanese diet doesn’t feature any bread. Instead, steamed rice is served with every meal, which eliminates the consumption of refined wheat flour. These days, plain rice can be easily replaced by the more healthy brown variation (See the ‘Limitations’ below).

Secret #5: Breakfast powered with miso soup

In Japan, breakfast is considered an important and big meal and is served as a variety of small dishes. A bowl of probiotic-rich miso soup is often enjoyed with the first meal of the day to give you an extra push.

Secret #6: Less desserts

Sugary desserts are not customary in Japan. Desserts can be served, but they are smaller and not eaten as frequently as in the sugar-obsessed West.

Secret #7: Different attitude to food and dieting

Japanese women are raised to enjoy food and consume a wide variety of foods; they are not as concerned about dieting as their Western counterparts. Also, ‘incidental’ exercising such walking everywhere keeps the Japanese slim and being active is a part of the daily routine.