Why? (actually, it’s more like WHY?!?!?)
Below are my first-hand findings, an insider’s look (if you will).
1.Japanese people eat a big breakfast, everyday.
Always rice and miso soup sometimes accompanied with broiled fish, egg, natto (fermented soy beans), salad, pickles, sausages and more! Eating a big breakfast not only kick starts ze old metabolism, it also keeps you satisfied for longer and all the food eaten is burnt off by the end of the day. So, consume your carbs and healthy fats only in the morn!
2.Japanese people don’t snack.
Although there are 10000+ Jap snacks and sweets on sale, from what I’ve seen (in the staff room) snacking is out. Not even a raw, acai, almond, coconut oil, chia seed, hemp bar (despite being natural those things are surprisingly high cal!). Nothing. Just three meals. A big breakfast, followed by a small bento lunch (and I really mean small – the bento boxes are so tiny you couldn’t pack more even if you wanted to!) and later, a small dinner served via several dishes- which I’ll soon get to…(see #6)
Unless you’re shoveling in mounds of noodles (which is done of course), chopsticks hold much less food than a knife and fork or fork and spoon combo. So, this ain’t rocket science but by eating smaller mouthfuls, you’re giving your brain enough time to realize when it’s full. In addition, eating smaller mouthfuls and chewing more aids good digestion and all.
Again, there’s probably more sugar in 21st century Japanese food than Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory but when it comes to dessert (a sweet meal eaten after dinner), Japanese people seldom have it. In fact, most Japanese restaurants (those selling Japanese cuisine) don’t even have a dessert menu – yes, it’s a sad sad but diabetes free world.
One seldom sees an overweight person in Japan so, there’s a lot of pressure to stay thin! Whats-more, Japanese people are very blunt when it comes to weight. If you’ve put on weight or are over-weight, they won’t hesitate to tell you! Eeek! In addition, most clothing sizes are a “one size fits all” (but actually, that one size is S) meaning, one has no choice! Also, buildings and their corridors are really narrow!
Generally, portion size is small – for instance, I was so surprised when I first saw mini versions (and I mean tiny) ice-cream cones, similar to trumpets and cornettos! Meals (including those sold at restaurants) are mostly on the small size and served via 4-5 small plates/bowls. Meaning, you get an itsby bitsy taste of everything – just the right amount, well when your stomach shrinks from its usual. Interesting side note: despite paying the same mula for a specific meal, women are served less than men – don’t even get me started on how angry this initially made me feel but it’s okay now…well, not really but I’ve no choice.
A lot of tea is consumed: hot/cold/luke-warm day/night/inside/outside/breakfast/lunch/dinner – okay you get the picture. But seriously, even nursery students come to school equipped with their own personal tea flask – a habit which is carried right through to adulthood. Full of antioxidants – I’m pretty sure everyone by now, is aware of green tea and its health/weight-loss joys.
At the end of the day, no reasoning can ever explain how my workmate has eaten instant ramen and white bread everyday for the last five months and still looks like a Victoria Secret model.
HOWEVER, times are changing people! Mwahahaha. With the introduction of dairy milk (post war) and white bread (which is more cake than it is bread) I’m not sure if Japan can keep up its thin looks! Unless one is eating a traditional Japanese diet (soba, sashimi, seaweed – the healthy stuff) and not the western-inspired (sorry not sorry) foods now so readily available at Japanese supermarkets and convenience stores, then, well, they might just turn out like the rest of us – muffin tops and all!