Recently, I had the opportunity to ask a large group of foreign women living in Tokyo if they research their health information in English (or their native language), Japanese, or both. It was almost unanimous that they research health tips in English, even if they have a good understanding of Japanese.
I found this to be interesting because Japan has such a different culture around food that it seems tricky to tailor western advice to an Asian lifestyle. Reading an article from someone living in the United States while living in Japan makes me feel like I have to search for uncommon western ingredients like quinoa and kale, scout out a green juice shop that opens before breakfast hours, or figure out a way to bake foods when it’s not that common in Japan to even own an oven.
So, I felt inspired to share with you some differences in the Japanese and Western diet approaches to show you a new perspective and raise your confidence in the Eastern methods.
1. The Japanese diet is broad, while the Western diet is detailed
There was a point in time when we didn’t have diet science to help us explain what was nutritionally sound for our bodies. So in the East (countries like Japan, China, and India), people developed a way of looking at nature for clues on how to stay healthy, and how to rebalance ailments in the body.
The most obvious one would be to eat according to the seasons because the idea is that the earth offers us exactly what we need to acclimate our bodies to our climate. You’ll notice in a Japanese teishoku (set meals) that while the main setup of the meal is the same throughout the year with some kind of animal or vegetarian protein, vegetables, rice, soup, and pickles, the vegetables are always interchanged as the seasons change.
Other attributes would be how fast or slow foods digest in our body, whether they make us feel uplifted or relaxed, and if the foods cause our body to contract or to expand. In other words, they look at properties you can understand with your senses.
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