Posted on Jul 30, 2022 17
How the Japanese eat: basic rules
If you visit a Japanese restaurant in USA, you are unlikely to find dietary dishes on the menu. All cuisines of the world adapt when visiting another culture. Salt, pepper and sugar will be placed on the table, and the rolls are filled with creamy cottage cheese.
So why is the Japanese famous as a nation of slender longevity? What do they really eat and what is the secret to their good health?
There are practically no overweight people among the Japanese. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, but on the whole, this is a country of slim and healthy people. How do they keep themselves in good shape all the time and even at 60 look like 40? Let’s look into the nation’s taste preferences.
Rule No. 1: small portions
One of the primary qualities that all Japanese have is moderation. Therefore, they prefer to put a minimum amount of food in their mouths and enjoy each bite slowly. This practice has a beneficial effect not only on the general state of the body but also has a positive effect on the development of aesthetic taste.
Therefore, the first step on the way to proper nutrition would be to buy miniature dishes. No matter how much you want to fit into it the usual portion, you will fail. Such a technique can fool your brain - it will think that you ate enough food, because the plate was full. Restraint in appetite will not only prevent you from gaining excess weight, but will also prevent diseases that arise from overeating and poisoning.
The Japanese have their own system of eating, which is called “rainbow”. The basic rule is: there are no forbidden products. There is only an infinite palette of colors and shades. On the table can be present all that nature has created: fruits, vegetables, meat, fish and so on.
By the way, in the Land of the Rising Sun, you can and should even mix fresh food, as each product has its own composition of vitamins and minerals. To saturate the body, you need to try a little of everything. The main thing is to know the measure and to eat in small portions, slowly and consciously.
Rule No. 2: Seasonality and freshness
The Japanese are 100% sure that only fresh food can fill your body with healthy nutrients. Therefore, the dishes on their menus are fully consistent with the seasons and in harmony with nature. For example, in the spring, the inhabitants of Japan eat salmon, bamboo shoots and drink young green tea. And when fall arrives, fried chestnuts, mackerel, and the first matsutake mushrooms are sure to be on the table.
Seasonal foods are another reason for the good health and longevity of the Japanese. Residents of other countries have long been following their example and basing their diet on the Japanese diet, which is rich in vegetables, fish, nuts, and seafood.
First, we are talking about the products containing Omega-3-6-9, the element which not only reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases but also keeps you in good shape and prevents you from gaining excessive weight. Therefore salmon, shellfish, seaweed, and feel are always present at the Japanese table.
Also, the menu of the inhabitants of Japan is made based on the weather. For example, in summer they prefer to eat jellies, cold soups, clams and octopus, as these foods and dishes bring the desired feeling of coolness.
And in winter, it is time for nabe stew, which is made from pink salmon, crabs, and shells. Noteworthy is the fact that the soup is eaten directly during cooking, pouring the nabe into the plate directly from the boiling pot.
Rule No. 3: Approximity to nature
The Japanese take the original appearance of food seriously and try to preserve it while cooking as much as possible. Even if you think the server brought a raw dish, do not trust your eyes. It’s just that local chefs cook food this way on purpose.
The major part of the Japanese diet comprises the so-called “gifts of the forest”: root crops, fern, bamboo sprouts. Unlike other peoples whose eating habits are changing with every century, the current generation of Japanese eat the same foods as their ancestors did, especially rice and seafood.
Meat is a rare guest on the table. First, it’s very expensive, and second, it’s hard on the stomach.
Rule number 4: Soya, fish, rice
The locals appreciate rice for its health benefits. Thanks to the large amount of fiber and vitamins found in rice, it can absorb moisture, burn calories, and improve the metabolism. It is also indispensable in the diet of travelers because it helps them prepare their stomachs for eating exotic Japanese dishes.
In addition, rice is used as a cosmetic - local girls use the decoction that remains after cooking rice as a natural tonic.
As for soy, it is primarily good for the skin. It contains a lot of plant extracts and unsaturated fatty acids, which smooth out wrinkles and saturate the skin with moisture.
Fish is full of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are most appreciated by the residents of the Land of the Rising Sun. This is probably why Japan is home to one of the largest fish markets in the world. Here they sell the freshest and most delicate fish. Restaurants and sushi bars also offer a wide variety of fish dishes made from tuna, salmon, and other “local delicacies”.
Rule No. 5: Vitamins and Minerals
Improper food processing methods usually lead to the “death” of all valuable vitamins and minerals. In Japan, they take this issue seriously: the locals not only use the right temperature to keep micronutrients intact but also properly slice the food.
Considering that vitamins and minerals are more contained in plants than in meat, the Japanese can be safely called a vegetarian. On their menu, you will find a variety of salads, cucumber and carrot combinations, wild plants such as burdock root “gobo”.
You don’t have to go to a restaurant to enjoy the food. You can eat at fast-food joints, vending machines, and even the supermarket. By the way, sushi, contrary to stereotypes, is not sold here at every step. You can try it only in specialized institutions.
But almost everywhere you can find buckwheat and wheat noodles with additives like vegetables or shrimp seasoned with sauce. Sometimes fried dumplings, tempura and dishes made from different parts of chicken are on the menu.