What I Learned About Eating in Japan

When I got home from Japan, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I'd actually lost a couple pounds. Granted, I did run a marathon while I was there, but I have run a marathon on several vacations now and I did not come home weighing less. Unsurprising, since eating is typically as much a part of my vacation as running (um. hello Antarctica where for days there was nothing to do on the boat but sit around and eat.... or Italy where I tried to cram as much gelato as possible into 5 days).

Japan reminded me that losing weight is really quite simple. I didn't make any effort to restrict my eating while I was there, I just ate the way the Japanese ate. We overcomplicate it here, and are always looking for the quick fix, but when it all comes down to it, it is all about eating quality food in reasonable portions.

1. Eat Real Food
I rarely ate anything processed or packaged when I was there. Even "fast", or cheap, food in Japan is real food- a bento box with fish, rice, and salad; or soba noodles in a rich broth.

2. Eat Produce at Every Meal
There was a huge salad bar at every meal and people used it! Starting every meal with a huge salad helped me feel satisfied earlier so I didn't over-eat.

3. Carbs are Not the Enemy
I ate rice and noodles up the wazoo while I was there. But, I ate reasonable portions along with protein, fruit, and vegetables.
So many noodles

4. Lay Off the Sugar
Sweets were not common, and those sweets that there were were not nearly as sweet at anything at home. We had fruit for dessert after dinner most nights. I have a total sugar addiction at home, but this trip totally got rid of the constant sugar cravings I have at home.

5. Consume Meat in Moderation
There was tons of protein at every meal, but very little of it was meat. It was mostly tofu, eggs, and tons and tons of seafood. Even R, who is the meat king at home, found himself eating very little meat. Instead, he gorged himself on seafood.

6. Drink Green Tea
Green tea was served at every meal and we had a little tea-pot and thermos of hot water in our hotel room. This encouraged me to drink a lot more tea. It gave me a little pick-me-up, without the same jittery feeling, that too much coffee can give me.

Now if only I could move to Japan! This is how I feel the best- when healthy eat is just part of the life-style and I don't have to think about it!