For no people on earth is it more true than the Japanese, when you say, "you are what you eat". The Japanese are, by all accounts, the people with the least obesity problem, the highest longevity rate, and best health record. What are they eating?
The importance of rice
Rice is the main carbohydrate food in Japan, consumed with every meal. However, the real basis of the Japanese diet is not rice but fish, consumed at more than 70 kilos per person per year--which means 190 grams daily. This combination of rice and fish, as their staple food is far superior to the American meat and potato, the European little of this, little of that diets, and light years ahead of the Russian pork, potato and mayonnaise daily fare.
Let's see what else they eat. Miso and other soy products! Miso is a fermented soy product, and a soup is made from it that is light tasting and easy to digest. One gets all the benefits of soy from it. Also, the famous soy sauce. Japanese people, on the average consume about 200 grams of soy products daily.
So why are they so thin and so healthy?
There are a few very good reasons. One is their sparingly consumption of sugar.
Low in sugar
Japanese consume only 20 kilos of sugar per year (compared to the American 71 kilos per year). Another is the Japanese consumption of cereals (which obviously includes rice) to be 105 kilos per year (compared to the American 68 kilos per year).
The human body appears to be doing much better with natural cereals and less sugar than fried potatoes and 'sugar in everything you eat' diets. The Japanese have far less incidence of heart disease and cancer than Americans. As they eat as much meat as the Americans do (or more), and smoke more, the theory is refined sugar and stress are the two biggest contributors to destroying one's health.
Another important factor in the Japanese diet is portion size. The portions are small.
This means they savor their food; eat slowly and enjoy it. No "scarfing" down hamburgers and fries here, and king size cola drinks.
Eating with chop sticks help, as you eat more slowly, take smaller bites and are able to appreciate what you are eating. This aids in digestion, and that is a proven fact.
There are two more factors which must be mentioned that make the Japanese diet so successful.
The first is breakfast.
The typical Japanese breakfast can (and usually includes) green tea, steamed rice, miso soup with tofu, spring onions and omelet and both raw and grilled fish.
This gives your body all it needs to start your day well. You will feel better, and such food does not add weight to your body at all. In fact, it stimulates the metabolism mechanism. You will not gain weight, and if overweight, will lose weight.
Variety Never be bored
The second factor is variety.
A typical American will have about 30 varieties of food per week. A typical European (especially southern European) will have about 45. The typical Japanese will have about 100 varieties of food per week, and will include lots of fresh fish, vegetables, fruit and a variety of meats.
There is one over-riding element here as well; the Japanese cook their foods lightly and thus are never feeling stuffed and stuffy after eating.
As you can see the diet is great and its healthy and is perfect for those wanting to lose weight and avoid illness.