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Balanced Eating, the Japanese Way

Posted: 5/30/2012

Posted May 30, 2012

Here are some simple tips on achieving and maintaining a balanced diet, excerpted from "The Kagawa Nutrition University's Diet Clinic".

--Eat a balanced mix of the following four food groups daily: 1) Dairy products, milk and eggs; 2) fish, seafood, meat, beans and soy products; 3) vegetables, fruits, mushrooms and seaweed; 4) grains, nuts, oil, sugar and seasonings.

In the 1960s, Aya Kagawa, the university's founder, came up with a unique methodology on how to achieve the right mix of these four components. It involves listing the quantity of each food item at 80 kcal each, for example, 120 cc of milk, one large egg, and 120 grams of green vegetables. Each of these food items at that quantity is considered as one point and you should make sure you get 20 points every day, with at least nine points coming from the first three food groups, and keeping the total calorie intake at 1,600 kcal.

--When cooking from recipes, measure each food item by weight or quantity to avoid overusing ingredients, especially oil and salty seasonings.

--Avoid overcooking and leave chunkiness in foods so that you chew them well. Chewing helps make you feel full.

--Use spices and dashi (Japanese soup stock made from fish and/or kelp) wisely. Sesame seeds, shichimi garashi (a mix of seven Japanese spices including hot pepper and citrus peel), sudachi citrus juice can add rich flavors to food and help you cut back on salt and salty seasonings.

--When eating at a restaurant, go for a teishoku (a Japanese set meal) containing a vegetable dish. This gives you a wider range of nutritional ingredients than a single plate of pasta or a rice bowl meal.

--When you have a sudden, uncontrollable urge for snacks, it's ok to have something. Just keep it under 80 kcal at a time, and have something to drink with it, as that can help calm your appetite. Nuts and fruits are recommended for snacks. Ten almonds, 12 walnuts or two thirds of an apple are equal to 80 kcal. (T.O.)

©2012 the Japan Times (Tokyo)

Visit the Japan Times (Tokyo) at www.japantimes.co.jp/

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