Diet News

Eat like the Japanese

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The ancient Japanese proverb hara hachi bunme basically means, ĎStop eating when youíre 80% full.í Unlike Western food, which has over time come to favour the super-sized, the Japanese eat small amounts slowly, which is one of the reasons why the Japanese are among the healthiest races in the world. Japanese people have one of the longest average lifespans in the world, and have far lower rates of obesity, as well as other diseases like heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis.

The Japanese diet is full of low-fat, protein-rich foods that have all the nutrients and antioxidants you need. And itís delicious, with plenty of variety and flavour. So taking a few cues form the Japanese could be a helpful way to make healthy changes to your diet plan.

Hereís where the Japanese have gotten it rightÖ

Leafy greens

We all know that eating plenty of vegetables is the best way to lose weight- the high water content and low caloric density means that you can add volume to your meal with vegetables, without adding on lots of calories. Plus you get plenty of nutrients that are important for supporting your overall health.

When cooked properly, these vegetables donít have to be boring. The Japanese diet is one that uses vegetables particularly well- the average Japanese person eats around five times the amount of cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cabbage, cress, lettuce etc) than the average Westerner- giving you plenty of delicious ways to eat your greens. Try steaming or quickly stir-frying them, or roasting them in the oven with some herbs and a little olive oil. Getting more leafy greens in your diet will help you to consume fewer calories while still feeling full.


Fish is one of the staples of the Japanese diet, and the average Japanese person will consume around half a pound of fish each day. Adding the right kinds of fish into your diet can give you numerous health benefits- and the Japanese cuisine gives you plenty of ways to prepare it so you get all the variety you need. First of all, fish are full of vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids that help to strengthen your overall health, including working to prevent different types of cancer and helping to improve brain function. These fatty acids can also help your body to burn fat more efficiently by increasing the flow of blood to the muscles during exercise.

Fish has a low saturated fat content, yet still maintains a rich and satisfying flavour. So if you replace some of your red meat consumption with fish, you can lower your intake of saturated fats and help to create a better cholesterol ratio, without giving up the taste and texture you enjoy. And youíll still get a healthy dose of protein, along with some calcium and plenty of other nutrients to keep your strong and healthy while you lose weight.

Plant-based protein


Western diets often seem to be based on the notion that meat is the only source of protein- but the Japanese diet focuses on plant-based proteins, which give you some great health and weight loss benefits. You donít have to cut out red meat completely, but by trying to eat plant-based proteins like tofu on a more regular basis, you can avoid lots of the saturated fat and sodium that tend to come along with red meat, while still getting the protein and nutrients you need.

Tofu packs in lots of nutrients in each serving, so it can be of great benefit when trying to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. The Japanese make good use of tofu and include it in lots of delicious dishes- so donít be put off by preconceived ideas about tofu being boring! Try adding some into your diet plan and learn to love it- the health and weight loss benefits are worth it.


Rice helps to fill you up quickly, and is fairly low in calories compared to some other carb-rich foods. Itís full of complex carbohydrates (the good kind!), which give you more energy, and adds volume to your meal without adding extra fat and sodium. By making rice the focus of your meal rather than meat, you can reduce saturated fat and sodium intake. The key is to drink plenty of water while you eat it- the water makes the rice expand in your stomach, so you feel more full on less.

Green tea

The Japanese often end a meal with a cup of green tea. Green tea is full of antioxidants, which help support your overall health and prevent disease- and it can also help to speed up your metabolism and help you burn more fat. Adding a few cups of green tea into your daily diet can help you to burn an extra 70 calories per day, boosting your metabolism, reducing your appetite, and even inhibiting fat absorption.

Plus, if you drink green tea instead of coffee or other beverages, you can save on the extra calories. Green tea still has caffeine, so it will wake you up in the morning without all the milk, sugar, chocolate, or whatever else goes in your coffee. Green tea is also nice and refreshing iced, so keep some in the fridge to sip on throughout the day.

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