The Japanese are well known for longevity and the secrets of their success are not that complicated. Many of their traditions support health preservation. Their cultural attitudes to food and general lifestyle promote high energy levels and keep off excess pounds. Here are the 7 key habits that keep the Japanese going, as pointed out in Naomi Moriyama’s aptly titled book “Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat”.
1. Different diet choices
A traditional home cooked Japanese meal includes fish, steamed rice or noodles low in fat made from ingredients like buckwheat or mung beans, and simmered vegetables. The meal can also be accompanied by a bowl of miso soup. Afterwards, a cup of green tea is enjoyed and the meal is concluded with fresh fruit.
The fish-rich meal promotes the eating of healthy omega 3 fatty acids, while eating sea weed and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, sprouts, kale, or bok choy gives one a full feeling and allows for consumption of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Green tea is well known for protecting the heart and fighting off chronic illnesses. Ending a meal with fruit also stops one from indulging in trans fatty foods like cake or tarts.
2. Small portions
Japanese food culture places an emphasis on presentation and despite smaller portions, offers a satiating meal. The Japanese follow the principle of enjoying food slowly. Each dish has its own plate and the food is arranged to show off its natural beauty. They also make sure not to fill each plate completely and stop eating once they are 80% full, avoiding any urge to continue eating for the sake of it. This portion control allows them to keep off extra weight.
3. Power up for the day with miso soup
Japanese breakfasts are no small affair and include a variety of small dishes. One of these servings is a bowl of miso soup, which is rich in probiotics. While it might be considered unusual in the West, this delicious soup offers energy to get you going for the day.
4. Light cooking
When the Japanese cook they choose healthy cooking methods including heart friendly oils and not exposing the raw ingredients to overly high temperatures for long periods. Choice methods include pan grilling, stir-frying in a wok, steaming, sautéing and simmering foods. Fresh foods, light on dressings are also preferred. Overall this cooking style leaves you with a light, fulfilled feeling in your stomach.
5. No bread. Just rice.
The Japanese diet is free from bread. Instead, they serve rice with every meal, traditionally steamed. Without bread, their diet remains free from refined wheat flour. You can go a step further in adding healthy choices to your diet and opt for brown rice, a healthier option than white rice.
6. Less desserts
Sugary and processed desserts are not the norm in Japan. Instead of using puddings, cakes, tarts or ice cream for a sweet ending to a meal, the Japanese serve small helpings of fresh fruit, or small portions of desserts, but not daily. Fruit is rich in antioxidants and other essential nutrients, and less sugar prevents diabetes, excess fat and weight gain.
7. A different attitude
Japanese devote less time to dieting and are raised to enjoy food. This also means they eat a wide choice of foods. In addition to their healthy attitude to food, they spend a lot of time involved in incidental exercise such as walking. Together with smart diet choices, being active allows for Japanese people to remain slim and contributes towards their longevity.