I just came back from a three week holiday in Japan. My husband and I had a terrific time touring that amazing country. One of the things we noticed was how much thinner Japanese people were than the typical kiwi back home in New Zealand.
I watched carefully and took notice, and here are some of the reasons I think Japanese people are leaner and healthier:
Japanese people walk more. In Tokyo we walked a lot. Pretty much everyone takes trains to get about, and there’s intrinsically a lot more walking when you take public transportation than when you drive.
Healthy food is affordable and available everywhere. Even the 7-Elevens (which are everywhere) had healthy, real food available very cheaply. For example, hot meat satays, packaged fish and noodles, salads – all were available everywhere, and cheap. By comparison, about the only quick and easy food available in New Zealand is either junky chains (McDonald’s, Wendy’s etc) or pies and chips at the local convenience stores. Even proper restaurants tend to serve chips with everything.
Food portions are smaller but higher in protein. The meals we had were all definitely smaller than back home, but were also higher in protein, so they filled you up.
Soup is a common part of meals. Miso and clear soups are commonly part of every meal. This helps fill you up with few calories. And it’s very tasty!
Sugar is not in everything. Food tastes sweet coming back home. That’d be all the added sugars. Don’t get me wrong – the Japanese love sweet stuff – but they tend to have sugar as cakes, and not in main dishes.
Junk food is not on every corner, like it is here in New Zealand. You had to hunt for a McDonald’s – and why would you want one anyway, when the local food is so much better! Whereas here in New Zealand, junk is everywhere. It’s actually quite hard to find something healthy at lunchtime.
Japanese meals are NOT based on wheat, seed oils and sugar. These three ingredients are the basis of Western food, and they’re all killers. Japanese people tend to eat lots of rice, vegetables and real meat instead.
Eating is a cultural exercise in Japan. They take pride in their food being tasty, healthy and fresh. By comparison, New Zealanders tend to focus on cheap, easy and fast. The difference attitudes are clearly visible on the waistlines of the two populations.
I loved being in Japan and can’t wait to go back! In the meantime, I’m taking some tips from the Japanese on how to eat well and healthy.
Japanese food is awesome!