As an introduction, the Shoku-Iku Japanese diet plan is generally a nutritional education in Japan. It differs from food education in western nations and other parts of the world. The Japanese Shoko-Iku takes on a nature-based philosophy on how to adopt a sustainable, well-balanced lifestyle.
What are the main principles of Shoku-Iku?
If you want to follow the Shoku-Iku Japanese Diet Plan, you must understand the diet’s main principles. I will share the four chief principles below.
Focusing on your stomach, not on the calories
Although many weight loss programs or heart-healthy diets stress the importance of counting calories as a technique to control your eating, I know that this is not effective for many people. While calculating calories from a purely scientific approach works, it does not consider human psychology that influences our habits and behavior.
When it comes to a healthy eating lifestyle, you should remember that the base of your unhealthful habits is not usually ignorance or lack of information, but mainly due to higher psychological forces that stir us to overeat or indulge in unhealthy food.
In the Shoku-Iku Japanese Diet Plan, it teaches the importance of paying close attention to the signals our body provides. When you tune in to the “Hara Hachi-Bunme” or 8/10ths of your stomach, it merely means eating until you are 80% full. Generally, it would be best if you neither starved nor get overly stuffed.
Eating whole foods
Remember that the first principle will not work unless you will follow the next – eating meals focused on well-prepared whole foods.
Today, a variety of processed foods are created to be hyper-palatable (high fat and sugar content) to keep consumers hooked and continue buying them again. I know that these processed foods will not properly sustain your body, yet both the body and mind are looking for them.
The difference between whole foods and well-prepared produce is that they do not trigger the satiation signals that initiate the brain to cease eating. With processed foods, our brains cannot correctly determine fullness.
Enjoying a good variety
The third principle emphasizes variety. This aims to keep your taste buds satisfied while augmenting the body with various nutrients and minerals. With the traditional Western diets, most focus on those that should be limited. As for Japanese philosophy, it focuses on healthy eating.
When it comes to variety, it is not just the addition of various types of proteins, vegetables, and carbs in a single meal. It also covers the preparation of these foods, using different techniques.
Whether stewed, steamed, fried, or grilled, the traditional Japanese meals comprise several small dishes, prepared in different methods, often following the structure of ichiju-sansai or “one soup three sides.” I recommend this approach since it will provide you with a range of carbohydrates, vegetables, and proteins in varying flavors.
Sharing your meals
In the fourth principle, it focuses on the joy and your emotional needs from food. Aside from delivering fuel for the physical body, food can help fulfill a deeper want for social connection and spiritual well-being.
Although fast food is convenient these days, a healthy salad lunch alone in your desk could not be compared to the pleasure of a sit-down meal with friends or colleagues. As social beings, our well-being depends on relationships and shared experiences with others. Remember that being with others feels nice and vital to our sense of well-being.
The Shoku-Iku Japanese diet plan on healthy eating is not just what and when to eat, but also where and who you share your meals with.
Considerations about healthy food
With the Shoku-Iku Japanese diet plan, it works since it is not just about calories and does not involve reducing your diet into bland foods that you will not enjoy. When it comes to healthy eating, the Japanese philosophy is adaptable enough for both the body and mind without depriving you of any significant food components that bring you happiness. Food should be considered as part of our nature and eaten to nurture and heal your body.
Remember that we are not machines that eat meticulously calculated and weighed meals for life.
What are the benefits of the Shoku-Iku Japanese diet plan?
Since the Shoku-Iku Japanese diet plan includes a small amount of meat, it mainly focuses on vegetables and other healthy foods. I will share some of the benefits that you will gain.
- The Japanese have one of the highest life expectancies in the globe.
- Those who follow the diet have a 15% reduced risk of premature death.
- It mainly focuses on whole foods that are minimally processed, ideal for heart health, and low fat and sugar content.
- Reduced risk of age-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, etc.
A close look at the foods and meal plans
When preparing a Shoku-Iku meal, I suggest preparing it as part of a bigger batch, usually one that is good for a week. Healthy Japanese eating also involves meal pairing.
Remember that a unique element of this Japanese diet plan is that you do not prepare a meal like you usually do. Instead, you prepare several small meals all at once. Most people think that this would involve spending hours in the kitchen, but you can prepare the meals ahead of time and use quick techniques.
I will provide you with a food list to have a better idea of what the Shoku-Iku Japanese diet plan is composed of.
- Steamed rice
- Udon noodles
The Shoku-Iku Japanese diet is suitable for all ages, especially those eager to make a few alterations to the way they eat. Generally, if following this diet plan, it involves weighing up heavy meals with lighter ones, including additional rice and vegetables, and setting up smaller meals instead of large ones.
I suggest that you look at what you are eating. Ponder on whether it is good or bad for your body. If it seems a good one, continue enjoying it. Sadly, if you feel that improvement is necessary, I recommend that you try the way the Japanese eat and see if it works for you.
A basic Shoku-Iku meal
The best part of this diet plan is the flavor pairing. If you decide to eat this way, I know your palate will not suffer for your health.
In most cases, a typical Shoku-Iku meal includes the following:
- Green tea. The matcha variant is a recommended choice. The tea is packed with antioxidant compounds, specifically, catechins recognized as cancer-fighting agents that also lowers the risk of acquiring viruses or developing heart disease.
- Miso soup. This soup is a good source of vitamins and minerals.
- Brown rice.
- Stir-fried vegetables
This is an excellent example of a simple Shoku-Iku meal. If you want to start with this healthy eating plan, I will share some tips to make the preparation easier to handle.
- Create a meal plan. Think of what you want to eat for the week. With this approach, you will not encounter indecisiveness points during mealtime that might force you to go for an unhealthy choice.
- Grocery shopping. Before starting with the preparations, you must have all the ingredients at home. If not, you need to get groceries while hungry. In such cases, it might be easy to stray from your diet.
- Eating with a partner. Look for someone who will go on this diet with you. If you have someone you can lean on and discuss the diet; it will be easier to start and pull through.
If you decide to try the Shoku-Iku Japanese diet plan, simply enjoy it! Do not consider it as a form of a diet plan that you are forced to go through. I suggest viewing it as a new way of life that will help you live longer and feel better in the long run.