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DIET AND EATING HABITS IN JAPAN 8th century Japanese food Japanese take great pride in the quality and purity of their food. The average daily caloric intake in Japan is 2,754 calories, 85th in the world, compared to 3,825 in the United States (no.1) and 1,500 in the Congo (173rd). Japanese cuisine is often seafood-based and generally it doesn't have the thick spicy sauces associated with Chinese food. It has been said the essence of Western cuisines is richness created by layers of different tastes while the essence of Japanese cuisine is simplicity created by eliminating all unnecessary flavors. A survey in 2007 found that 71 percent of foreign tourists to Japan are attracted by Japanese food. History of Japanese Food 19th century vegetable monger Chopsticks were introduced to Japan from China. The term Japanese food (washoku) didn’t come into existence until the Meiji Period (1868-1912) when it was coined to distinguish indigenous food from Western food (yoshoku).
The militarization of Japan after the Meiji period helped spread food even more and further homogenize eating habits. Japanese adaptions of Western food---known in Japanese as yoshoku---include naporitan (ketchup-flavored spaghetti), omu-raisu (rice omelet) and hangug (hamburger paddy meatloaf with a brown sauce).
In 2005, Japanese inventor Yoshiro Nakamatsu was given the Ig Nobel peace award in nutritional science for taking photos of every meal he ate for 35 years and analyzing the effects of his off own brain activity. Kate Elwood wrote in the Daily Yomiuri: Several years ago my older daughter Frances brought a bunch of papers home from primary school related to various school events.
We started out OK, with the question "Do you eat breakfast every morning?" But we were shot down by the very next question, "Do you eat rice for breakfast?" and brusquely shunted off to the side of the quiz for morning sluggards.
Meals in Japan A traditional meal is served with rice, vegetables and miso (fermented soy bean paste) soup and fruit is often eaten as desert. Japanese often drink nothing with their meals, Miso soup often serves the purpose of a drink. Eating Customs in Japan Meals prepared in traditional Japanese style are served on low tables set up on the floor.
Eating Don'ts in Japan Japanese consider it uncouth to lick your fingers or blow your nose, especially when eating. Japanese consider it somewhat rude to eat in front of non-eating people, or to eat while walking down the streets. Many Japanese, especially older men, believe that noodles taste better when they hot and drenched in broth and are best appreciated when slurped. These days many Japanese, especially young women find noodle slurping noises to be offensive and worry about splattering broth on their designer clothes.
Chopsticks, Servings and Dishes in Japan Japanese eat all Japanese-style meals with chopsticks. Japanese prefer disposal wooden chopsticks at restaurants and laminated wooden ones at home. Meals often consist of many dishes, which are passed around and carried from the kitchen on trays and placed in the table. Eating Habits in Japan Household expenditure on food: 16 percent (compared to 50 percent in Ethiopia and 13 percent in the United States). The traditional Japanese diet is made up of fish, rice, pickles, miso soup and vegetables served in small healthy proportions.
The average Japanese consumes 200 fewer calories a day than the average American, with a large order of McDonald’s fries in Japan having 529 calories, compared to 570 in the United States.
Changing Eating Habits in Japan Many urban Japanese have adopted the American way of eating---a big breakfast, light lunch, and a big dinner. Although fish, vegetables and rice remain the staples of the Japanese diet, Japanese are increasingly eating more sweet, fatty and calorie-rich food as reflect by the popularity of Haagen Daz ice cream, Krispy Kreme doughnuts and four-patty Megamac burgers. Consumption of rice and fresh fruit has declined by half since 1970, while beef consumption has risen by 40 percent and coffee drinking has tripled in the same period of time. Busy children attending after school classes are reportedly eating more and more starchy food, frozen microwave snacks, convenience store sandwiches, cup of noodles and rice balls Many salarymen eat almost exclusively at convenience stores. Japanese people are gradually moving away from traditional food and table manners, according to a study by Tokyo Gas Co.'s Urban Life Research Institute, which conducted surveys on food habits on about 3,300 respondents in their 20s to 80s in the Tokyo metropolitan area in 1990 and 2011.
Traditionally in Japan, family members sit together to eat a meal consisting of rice as a staple, three dishes and a bowl of soup. In an effort to preserve traditional Japanese food culture, some schools and local communities have started promoting dietary education and encouraging people to eat locally produced food. Diet and Health in Japan Good food and good eating is equated with good health and a happy family life in Japan.
Shokuiku (“teaching the importance of healthy eating”) is stressed in classrooms on primary and middle school.
In May 2006, scientists at Tohuku University in Japan concluded that a traditional Japanese, fish-based, low-fat diet is healthier than an American diet based on a study in which 21 typical foods from each country were freeze dried, ground into powder and then fed to eight mice for a period of three weeks. Fat accounts for less than 20 percent of the calories in the Japanese diet, compared to nearly 40 percent in the American diet.
A study by a team led by Akiko Nanri of the National Center for Global Healthy published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate a healthy Japanese diet exhibited symptoms of depression half as often as those who do not. McDonald’s and Seven & I, which runs Seven Eleven convenience stores, in Japan are trying to eliminate or reduce trans fats in their products. Omega-3 and omega-6 are essentially fatty acids that work together to promote good health, The human body can not make them so it is essential that people eat diet rich in them. Studies have also shown that eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids cuts the risk of stroke and cancer. There is also some research that suggests that mothers who eat Omega 3s while pregnant produce smarter children and that people who get angry easily can better control their tempers better if they eat them. In April 2012, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported: “A team of researchers has developed a new approach to dieting--controlling your appetite by viewing an enlarged image of a food item you are about to eat. The system involves a pair of eyeglasses equipped with video cameras connected to a computer that processes the images. The team conducted an experiment using the system, in which 12 men and women in their 20s and 30s were asked to eat cookies until they got full. Unhealthy Food and Japan Hello Kitty popcorn Almost the entire population of Japan has high methymercury levels---thought to have come from tuna and other fish---that are above U.S. When Japanese move to the West their rates of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease go up.

Changing eating habits---namely consuming more meat, cheese and fat-rich Western foods---has been accompanied by higher cholesterol levels and rates of heart disease and other illnesses.
Sharp has developed a microwave-oven-size oven that it claims blasts the fat and salt out of food with superheated steam. Metabolic Syndrome in Japan A big deal is made in Japan about metabolic syndrome---a grouping of risk factors for developing heart attacks, and cardiovascular disease and diabetes that includes high cholesterol, high blood pressure, elevated triglyceride levels, high glucose levels, low levels of “good” HDL cholesterol and abdominal obesity---after a study found that half of all men between the age of 40 and 74 and one in five women show signs of it. The report shocked the nation and the government responded with legislation to identify “metab” and get Japanese to get in better shape and encouraged Japanese companies to get involved.
As part of the regulations companies are required to slim down their workforce or pay high insurance premiums. The practice of determining whether someone has metabolic syndrome based solely on measuring waist size has been called into question. According to an estimate by the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry, 5 million tons to 8 million tons of food is scrapped yearly because it was returned or for other reasons.
Sachio Tanaka and Yukiko Furusawa wrote in the Yomiuri Shimbun: “A team of food manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers has begun reviewing distribution practices so they can relax rules on freshness in an attempt to reduce waste. The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry formed a council in October 2012 comprising 40 major makers, wholesalers and retailers in an effort to eliminate waste and streamline distribution.
The team plans to study how the one-third rule is applied and how to ease standards in cooperation with the council.
Sachio Tanaka and Yukiko Furusawa wrote in the Yomiuri Shimbun: “Corrugated boxes filled with processed food such as instant noodles, canned food and confectionery were piled in a corner of a building in Tokyo. About 80 percent of the food is sent to the NPO because it is approaching its best-before dates. In 2011, Second Harvest Japan received 1,689 tons of food, including perishables."The food being sent here is only a fraction of what's available.
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Daily Yomiuri, Times of London, Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO), National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’sEncyclopedia and various books and other publications.
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Sweet teriyaki-style sauces though are common and artistic arrangements of the food items served is important. Instead it favor small cuts if meat and small sea creatures that are carefully prepared and cooked. Up until that time “Japanese food” was not a single cuisine; it varied a great deal from region to region. An effort was made to improve the nutrition of food and raise the energy level (calorie count) to aid the military and some Chinese and Western dishes were introduced to achieve this goal. Tonkatsu (pork cutlet”) is an adaption of Veal Cotelet, a French menu item, that was modified because veal gave Japanese heartburn and grated cheese was replaced with breadcrumbs, with the whole thing being deep fried like tempura and served with heaps of shredded raw cabbage. Among them was something that appeared to be a simple game, in which the respondent proceeded forward from square to square, based on whether the answer to the previous question was "yes" or "no." So we gave it a go.
Frances took it in stride, but I found myself falling into my most "I beg to differ" sarcastic mode, never a very lovely sight.
Many people eat out, grabbing a quick meal or snack such as a bowl of noodles, sandwiches, rice balls or Chinese food. Sometimes beer, wine, hot tea, cold tea, water or other drinks are served with their meals.
People sit on the floor and don't start eating until the oldest male or someone says lets eat and everybody says itaeakimas.” When offering a plate, dish, glass or bottle to someone who is older than you, you show respect by using two hands to present the object. At restaurants, customers are served hot towels, which sometimes can be used like a napkin.
The latter custom dates back to a time when eating in public was considered mean to people who didn't have enough to eat. Making noise is not considered impolite, rather, it is considered a compliment and an expression of enjoying the food.
Even soup is consumed with chopsticks (the ingredients are eaten with chopsticks and the soup is drunk from the bowl). People often serve themselves by taking food from a serving dish with a serving spoon, their fingers or communal chopsticks and then placing them on a small plate in front of them. The average Japanese adult consumes 2887 calories a day (compared to 3603 calories per adult in the United States and 1991 calories in Kenya). Children are taught feel satisfied without feeling stuffed, ascribing to the saying, “Fill your stomach only 80 percent.” Habits such as eating from a rice bowl and taking food from shared bowls cut down in consumption. Another survey found that 63 percent of Japanese spend less than 15 minutes eating breakfast. Some people attribute this phenomena and a fattier diet to an increase in heart disease among Japanese and an increase in obesity.
Fish consumption dropped around 15 percent in the 1990s, largely because it was difficult to prepare, while the purchase of prepared foods increased 65 percent in the same period. The study's results showed that in 2011, 65 percent of respondents said they wanted to eat miso soup at least once a day, down from 77 percent in 1990.
Eating guidelines recommend consuming “30 different foodstuffs,” with an emphasis on fruit and vegetables, each day. American food items including hamburgers and fried chicken while Japanese items included sashimi and rice porridge. In 2000, the American Heart Association recommended that people eat salmon or tuna twice a week. Oily fish such as salmon and tuna are in rich fish oils, which in turn are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, an essential nutrient in the human diet. In a study conducted by Bingham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, regularly eating tuna or broiled or baked---but not fried---fish reduces the risk of atrial fibrillation, a major cause of stroke and other problems.
A study by American and British researchers published in Lancet in 2007 reported that children of mothers who ate small amounts of fish when they were pregnant gave birth to children who had lower IQ and academic test scores and had more social and behavioral problems than children of mothers who ate 12 or more ounces of fish per week.
When a person wearing the glasses looks at a food item he or she is holding, the system processes the image of the item to make it appear as much as 50 percent larger or 33 percent smaller than actual size. When the image processing system showed cookies 50 percent larger than actual size, the test subjects ate 9.3 percent less on average compared to the amounts they ate while viewing the cookies with their naked eyes. Costing about a $1,000, the oven uses a generating unit to produce intense 300̊C steam that is blasted at the food in three directions, reducing fat and salt, when the the liquid is drained away. In response some companies have begun offering employees deliveries of healthy foods like brown rice, started offering “lifestyle instruction courses, offering “healthy menus” in company cafeterias to their homes and begun sponsoring retreats for overweight employees to help them trim down with lectures on diet, exercise and Zen mediation.

The team is planning to revise eat-by freshness dates and the so-called one-third rule on food delivery. The team also plans to propose flexible rules by introducing appropriate item-by-item delivery deadlines.
The food, which was originally to be disposed of, was provided by food manufacturers and other firms to a nonprofit organization, Second Harvest Japan. A large amount of edible food is discarded," said Rumi Ide, a Second Harvest Japan official. Such material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of country or topic discussed in the article.
Portions are small by American standards and a lot of efforts can go into getting the right ingredients, preparation and presentation, especially at fancy restaurants. You can also check lists of restaurants and suggestions in local entertainment magazines, the Lonely Planet books, and other guidebooks. Industrialization helped homogenize Japan’s food with hundreds of varieties of locally-produced soy sauces, for example, being replaced by factory-produced national brands. It soon became clear that it had been created as an entertaining way to get the young students to think about the importance of breakfast. Main dishes made at home, include thing things like curry rice, pork cutlets, meatloaf-like hamburgers, fried fish, stir fried chicken or pork dishes, and dishes made with tofu. In 8th century Japan there was a law that required anyone caught in the act of drinking while standing up to commit suicide. One man told AP, "It'll be a truly lonely feeling when nobody makes slurping noises anymore." In some situations, a particularly loud slurp means you've finished eating. If there is no serving spoon or communal chopsticks, you should turn your chopsticks around and pick up the food with the end of your chopsticks that have not been placed in your mouth.
These food became more popular when Western influences began to take hold and spread as the income of ordinary people rose and they could afford more foreign food. A government survey in 2002, found that 30 percent of men between 30 and 60 are obese, an increase of 40 percent from two decades earlier. During the Bubble Economy years there was a fascination with gourmet food followed by an interest in health food and diet. For example, some respondents ate only snacks or cookies for breakfast, while others said they prepared dinners consisting primarily of carbohydrates, such as sandwiches and fried yakisoba noodles served together. Mice fed Japanese food had lower cholesterol levels and recorded higher activity among genes that break down cholesterol.
It was the first time the group recommended eating specific things rather than offering general guidelines.
Michitaka Hirose, has developed an image processing system that changes the apparent size of a food item when one picks it up to eat it. It also processes images of the hand so it looks natural even while holding the different-sized items. In contrast, when the system showed cookies 33 percent smaller than actual size, the people ate 15 percent more on average, according to the team. One survey has shown that has the number of people getting metabolic syndrome tests has increased the number getting cancer tests has shrunk.
In addition, significant amounts of food awaiting shipment are discarded because the delivery deadline passes. The one-third rule refers to processed foods that must reach retailers in one-third or less of the time it takes from production to the eat-by freshness date. One participant said: "After the Great East Japan Earthquake, consumer awareness has changed. For companies suffering recent economic slumps, the cost of returning and disposal of food is a heavy burden.
It's necessary to accurately adjust production as well as reviewing the [one-third] rule," an official of a midsized supermarket chain said.
The reason for this is that food, which has not reached its best-before date, is returned to food manufacturers in accordance with the one-third rule. This constitutes 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. Many of these dished were concocted during the Meiji period at a restaurant in Ginza called Renga-eto that started out as a French restaurant in 1885. It also soon became clear that my daughter and I were not up to snuff when it came to the morning meal, according to the game, which no longer seemed quite so fun. Asked whether they mainly ate rice or bread for breakfast, 34 percent said rice in the 2011 survey, compared to 44 percent in 1990.
In other cases, aluminum foil was used instead of dishes, and some children could not use chopsticks properly.
Many Japanese carefully fold their towel or tissue after finishing their meal rather than wadding it up.
Tonkatsu, for example, is a fried pork cutlet adapted so it can be eaten with chopsticks rather than a knife and fork. The percentage of respondents who ate bread or cereal for breakfast rose to 40 percent in 2011, compared to 35 percent in 1990. Mich Brown of Paterson Institute at Christie Hospital in Manchester England published in the journal Cancer in March 2006 found that eating foods rich omega-3 fatty acids could help prevent the spread of prostrate cancer. It is believed this practice spread throughout the nation in the 1990s under the initiative of supermarket chains. Most of them have been victims of unreasonable demands from retailers," said an official of a confectionery maker, which hopes the one-third rule will be changed.
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. Up until maybe 50 years ago most people ate soup and rice three meal day and occasionally ate dried, salted or fermented dish. They often take one bite of rice and then one bite of the main dish so it mixes in their mouth.
Cell membranes made with this type of fat are less elastic and a lack of elasticity can be dangerous to the heart.

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