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Why are Japanese so slim?

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Why are Japanese so slim? 2006/9/2 21:34
I would like to know why Japanese girls are so slim? I am from London and trying to learn to cook Japanese as I want to lose weight (and it tastes good too!). Western diet advice tells us to avoid white rice and noodles like the plague. But Japanese eat rice every day and are very slim. I really enjoy Japanese food, do you think any of it is bad for you? Like high salt content, MSG, white rice etc. I have also heard too much soya can suppress the thyroid so it can be bad for you.
by Cheryl  

Less food = less weight 2006/9/3 09:15
Cheryl,

The main reason is simply because the Japanese in general don't eat as much as their western counterparts.
I agree that the high salt content of a lot of Japanese is probably not so good from a health point of view.

by Dave in Saitama rate this post as useful

Fish, noodles, etc...all good 2006/9/3 11:04
Here are my 2 cents....

First of all, (IMHO) Japanese believe in quality not quantity (as oppose to (fat) Americans...I'm American).

Second, the Japanese eat a lot of fish, which is healthy (here in the USA, it was recommended to eat fish twice a week).

Third, as to whether noodles is healthy or not...I think it is healthy and a much better choice as a meal than something like burgers and fries.

Fourth, Japanese do a lot of walking. In addition to diet, exercise is key to maintaining a healthy (slim) body.

by MY rate this post as useful

Ocha 2006/9/3 13:07
Zero or extremley low calorie tea cuts daily calorie intake. Milk in tea and sugar in tea or coffee all adds to daily calorie totals.
by Adio rate this post as useful

One Word: 2006/9/3 15:32
Fish.
by Niko-chan rate this post as useful

... 2006/9/3 16:18
It's a combination of factors- the things people have mentioned above, i.e. smaller portions, less fat, attention to appearance, walking, plus DNA. Genetically Japanese people are less prone to obesity.

Although fish is healthy, these days levels of contaminants can mean it is not necessarily healthy to eat fish every day. Pregnant and breast-feeding women are advised not to eat fish too often, as mercury levels in particular can be dangerous.

You would have to eat huge amounts of soy for it to have any kind of negative effect- I eat plenty, and so far no problems with my thyroid!

It is thought possible that the amount of salty and pickled foods in Japanese cuisine may contribute to the quite high rate of stomach cancer here in Japan. My Japanese husband's father died recently of stomach cancer, and he ate a very traditional Japanese diet.

by Sira rate this post as useful

Peers 2006/9/3 17:22
I agree that it is to diet to a large extend, but I also think that there is a lot of (imagined) peer pressure involved, especially for Japanese women, to stay thin or to diet while they are way too thin, IMO.
BTW: I do have the impression that Japanese youngster are getting a bit fatter than the Japanese people in their 30s or 40s. Is this the fast food kicking in?
by Kappa rate this post as useful

... 2006/9/3 20:01
I am also of asian descent as my parents are Filipino, but being in London I became used to eating a western diet. This typically meant lots of wheat based food, cereals, bread, potatoes etc. Basically junk!

There is a trend here to eat low-carb and high-protein diet, and not low fat and high carb diet (as Japanese diet is).

But recently after all my failed efforts, I started to eat a lot of rice, fish, noodles and veg again. And I am starting to lose weight!

So this contradicts all the diet advice I have read about in the UK! But I think I will continue to eat this way.

by Cheryl rate this post as useful

slimness is not genetic 2006/9/4 03:07
Japanese are not genetically inclined to avoid obesity. American-born Japanese have a higher rate of diabetes and obesity than their immigrant ancestors. It is believed that more processed foods, refined starches and higher fat diets as well as a sedentary lifestyle are contributing factors.

One theory I have read to explain more stomach cancers for Japanese nationals is that they eat a lot of charcoal broiled foods(this is only a theory).

by nanshi rate this post as useful

simple 2006/9/4 03:41
Japanese are indeed slim, IMO it is simple, they have a low fat diet. Went to Japan 2 times, and although we really ate good, we love japanese food, we both (my husband an I) lost some weight each time. Really, it is just the lack of fat.
by Ingrid rate this post as useful

Variety 2006/9/4 16:08
There are many reasons Japanese are slim.

1. They do not often overeat. It is true they binge like foreigners do, but not to the extent of Western people. The ones that do, are not slim.

1.5 Everday moderate exercise in the form of walking - often up and down small inclines. This is great training. Also, isometric exercise on the train of keep your balance...believe it or not, but this is amazing for toning etc.

2. Their food is healthy and fresh. Fresh cooked (an oxy moron I suppose) opposed to frozen food that most N. Americans eat, is much much more full of proper vitamins and minerals readily needed for digestion, etc.

3. Did I mention food? Fish (and fish broth), green tea, the Japanese style `mountain vegetables` are extremely healthy.

### Imagine what Japan was like when it was a completely vegetarian/vegan country about 150 years ago. I`m sure those girls would have been fit...if they ate at all.

by HIM Haille Selassie rate this post as useful

::: 2006/9/4 16:27
They were also about 20-30cm shorter on average than they are now!
by Sam rate this post as useful

serving size 2006/9/4 17:05
I have been living here in Tokyo for five years.
One thing that once surprised me (and still surpises every new crop of expats I see) is the tiny serving sizes here.
This is consistant across the board, even in western food (which is much more popular here than you may imagine. There are 1,200 Italian restaurants in Tokyo alone!).
Most main courses are pretty much the size of a western starter.
Perhaps the answer for you is to eat starters instead of mains...
by sammy rate this post as useful

True 2006/9/4 19:02
I agree with the above- that definitely helps. I'm not Japanese, but my family and I are all quite thin, and it wasn't until I was older that I realised we eat less at each mealtime than many people. Japanese serving sizes are perfect for me. In the US servings are enormous- much bigger than my home country even. I was astounded by how big the meals and drink sizes are at restaurants when I first went to the US. I can't imagine where people fit all that food and soda!
by Sira rate this post as useful

Why Japanese girls and women are slim? 2006/9/4 23:54
My version is something like this, but it might not be true. Just my guess. Japanese girls:
1. Receive small amount of food when in school - miso soup, rice bowl, vegetables.
2. During lunch time eat lunch box, not warm food
3. Lots of girls smoke
4. Married woman do not have to work and to spend all day sitting in office, because husband works
5. Married woman can spend day for themselves - attending yoga classes, going to hairdressers etc.
6. If work, then usually do not take jobs with stress and responsibility. You know stress can make you eat more.
7. Saving money everywhere and also on food
by Liz rate this post as useful

.. 2006/9/5 02:29
As for school they also stress more physical education and excersize than some of their western counterparts. I know this from being an exchange student there.
by John rate this post as useful

indeed quality not quantity 2006/9/5 05:18
I have noticed that Japanese portions are a lot smaller and beautifully presented. It is more satisfying than I first thought, perhaps because of the variety. My friends and I all found this way of eating is very filling, but you never feel bloated as you might get in a western meal.

The Japanese way of eating seems very health-giving. Do Japanese not snack much either? I am trying to eat more fresh food and avoid all the convenience foods and ready meals.

I am also trying more sea vegetables but in the UK it is mostly found in dried form.

by Cheryl rate this post as useful

fishbroth 2006/9/5 12:13
Fish broth keeps them healthy. They use fishbroth as a base broth for miso soup, tempra sauce, sukiyaki sauce, udon or zarusoba soup etc. Japanese eat higher portion of omega than most. And they injest it naturally, not pill forms as supplements.
Yes the food and drink portions are smaller but it fits the Japanese.
Some (used to be majority) drink mostly green tea pose to cream and sugar in the coffee which adds extra calories. I do.
Yes a lot of people snack now because wide variety of goodies are available and they are turned on by trends in food. If the Japanese eat snacks more often than they should, they will gain weight regardless if they eat traditional Japanese foods.
Ginger is healthy, good for colds and sore throat.
White rice is healthy. White rice doesn't give you gas, whole grains would probably give you gas and makes you feel bloated.
But don't shy away from zarusoba, buckwheat noodles. Japanese make noodles and serve them fresh. It's delicious. It can be eaten hot or cold as they do during summer time. It doesn't make you feel bloated. My aunt in Nagoya went on zarusoba diet and lost weight.
by cc rate this post as useful

They have better food habits. For now. 2006/9/5 13:05
"Western diet advice tells us to avoid white rice and noodles like the plague."

That's just nonsense. That kind of advice comes only from the fad driven, obsessive end of the nutritional spectrum.

by Ricecooker rate this post as useful

... 2006/9/5 13:20
I agree. The promoters of extreme diets like Atkins and anyone who has jumped on that kind of bandwagon might tell you that, but Western advocates of a balanced healthy diet have been saying for years that complex carbohydrates are very important, and they are still saying that. The low- carbohydrate, high-protein thing isn't representative of all nutritional advice in the west at all.
by Sira rate this post as useful

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