Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Observations on Japanese Eating Habits

Traveling all over the world gives all of us an advantage to redefine "normal" eating habits. They can be so different from one country to another.

Japan is a great place to help people understand portion sizes. I have only visited Japan as a stopover, but it came as no surprise to see that their cookies were a quarter the size of ours in the US.

On the question of body weight in Japan: the weather was cold and rainy so most people had overcoats on. In the stores, without their coats, they looked trim and chic.

Surprisingly, on my return, I gave a talk to Japanese students (average age 19 years), and found half of them to be overweight. With a translator, the students seemed to recognize what I was saying about making good choices and staying active. I had studied their diet so spoke about their foods.

From what I understand, American fast food stores are becoming popular hangouts for students. Children are increasing their fat and food quantity intake, are becoming overweight and showing an increase in heart disease rate.

To actually see this phenomenon in my audience was a shock. I stressed the importance of following their traditional eating patterns of small portions and nutritious foods. We could learn from that as well. I encourage my clients to eat at Japanese restaurants, and to order one dish at a time. When completed, order another dish. Even nutritious foods can add up.