Dreaming of Japan… When Less Becomes More

japan

Next month marks national diabetes month throughout the United States. A staggering 24 million children and adults have been diagnosed, with yet another 54 million at risk for type II diabetes. Eeeks! With that in mind, the absurd obesity issue which commonly pre-cedes diabetes needs to be squashed! Shall we take a glance at what our friends in Japan are doing to prevent these life threatening diseases?

Okinawans have come to be known globally for their longevity, living well past their sixties. Good genes, healthy eating habits, and an overall positive outlook on life is the stuff that this culture thrives on. Can we mimic this?

The 80/20 Split

Consider this.  A Japanese person eats only until they’re 80 percent full while the average American is 20 percent (or more) over their ideal body weight.  Can that 20 percent window make that much of a difference? Apparently so. This traditional practice of eating less, called Hara Hachi Bu has been attributed to 80 percent less heart disease, ovarian, and prostrate cancer than Americans!

When Less Becomes More

Super sizing it and only eating once or twice per day sends mixed messages to the brain. When we eat large infrequent meals, the brain sends signals to the rest of the body that we might be entering hibernation mode. Yes, Americans are known for leading sedentary lifestyles, but we’re not bears read to sleep for the winter. Stuffing in larger than life meals creates extra work for your liver and pancreas. The result is a tired pancreas, diabetes, and a wider waist-band.

So what to do? Our bodies really like when we eat smaller more frequent meals with plenty of variety. This practice balances the glycemic index, thus reducing stress on your pancreas.  Want to absorb the max amount of nutrients and experience digestion with ease? Smaller meals are the way to go.

Those eating smaller more frequent meals report:

  • Increased energy and improved sleep
  • Less digestive difficulties including bloating, gas, GERD, and IBS
  • Improved ability to concentrate and memory retention
  • Ability to maintain a healthy weight
  • Less heart disease, diabetes, and cancer
  • Improved overall quality of life

Want to learn more about how the Japanese have become the longest lived culture on earth? Check out the practice of Ikigai, at Balancing Tenderfoot.


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2 thoughts on “Dreaming of Japan… When Less Becomes More

  1. I have to run to a squash game, but here’s how I see what’s happening:

    Big portions (especially with lots of carbs) -> increase in blood sugars -> surge of insulin triggering fat storage -> low blood sugars -> hypoglycemia -> unhealthy snack or another big portion to rise blood sugar -> another surge of insulin triggering fat storage etc.

    With smaller, regular portions it is easier to keep blood sugars in balance, so body is using what you eat for energy instead of storing it in fat cells. And yeah I’m a low-carb guy, but eating meals with high protein and fat content will also take longer time to digest, which also helps keep those blood sugars at steady level.

    I’m hoping to do a student exchange in Japan next year, so will hopefully get some good first-hand experience about how they eat there :)

  2. Pingback: Tips and Tricks for Better Digestion

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