I just finished reading the book Japanese Woman Don’t Get Old or Fat: Secrets of My Mother’s Tokyo Kitchen, by Naomi Moriyama and William Doyle, and I highly recommend it to people who are interested in getting healthier by exploring the Japanese style diet. I first heard about this book years ago while watching an Iron Chef America episode where Naomi Moriyama is a frequent Judge on the show (as well as the original Japanese version I think) and she promoted her book for healthy living and weight loss amount the Japanese woman population. There are some amazing facts about obesity within the different nations and a comparison chart showing Japanese as the lowest in obesity rates. And as we all know, the United States has one of the highest. So I figured, they’re on to something, the Japanese people have also been known to live longer and if I can make that happen then good for me.
Now some people will say, “But I don’t like (or I’m allergic to) seafood and fish.” And although some of the recipes in the book that contain a fish or fish based product may not be suitable for you, the ideas of the book are still good to try and practice. The author talks about her experiences growing up in Japan and also the cultural shock when she attended college here in the US and the differences between our eating style and the one in Japan. She talks about how not only the food they eat, but the lifestyle of the Japanese people (walking everywhere, us Americans are lazy you must admit) contribute to their low obesity rates, especially among the Japanese woman. She even debunks the myth that being thin is programed into their genetics because when she moved to the US and switched to a ‘Western’ style way of eating, she easily gained weight. But when she went back home and started eating the food her mother prepared and going back to the Japanese ‘walking’ lifestyle, she lost all the weight in a matter of months which took years to put on.
She goes over the ‘Seven Pillars’ in Japanese home cooking which are:
These are the basic makings of a Japanese Diet. They’re numbered in order of importance. The 2 main things she tried to emphasize in the book is ‘Portion Size’ and ‘Fresh Ingredients’ which is what we seem to lack in most western diets, especially the low income families. Everything is pre made, canned, frozen or packaged. I personally don’t see any harm in some canned ingredients, but I guess in Japan they do emphasize the freshness of their food. Flavor wise, there is always a difference when eating freshly picked ingredients then to the ones you buy in a can or even at the store, which have been picked before ripeness and shipped miles away.
All in all, this book is slowly changing the way I feed my family. I’m trying to add more colorful vegetables to each dinner plate. I think if I get them hooked on this way of eating, it’ll stick with them when they’re adults. I want my children not to revolve their eating habits around fried foods and processed meat and instead explore different types of foods and flavors which are good for the body and the mind.
So I recommend reading this book. Unfortunately I didn’t have the funds to buy it, but I was so happy when I found it at my local library. If you can’t go out and get the book right now, check to see if you can borrow it from a library near you. I think it will change your outlook on eating to make it fun, healthy and enjoyable.