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Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat

Book Review

Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat
By Naomi Moriyama and William Doyle
Delacorte Press (2005)
Reviewed by David Grotto, RD, LD, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson


The book claims Japanese women have the lowest obesity rate and the longest life expectancy in the world and by following some diet changes, the same health benefits could happen to you.

Diet Plan

The Japanese are one of the most long-lived and healthy societies in the world. The author of Japanese Women Don't Get Old or Fat, Naomi Moriyama, says she has discovered what she calls the "seven secrets of Japanese home-style cooking" that may explain this good fortune:

  1. The Japanese diet is based on fish, soy, rice, fruit and vegetables.
  2. Portion sizes are much smaller and are served on beautiful downsized tableware.
  3. Japanese cooking is super light and ultra gentle. Oil use is limited with an overall fat consumption of 26 percent of calories from fat.
  4. Japanese eat rice instead of bread. Though the author advocates brown rice, white rice is what is most consumed in Japan. She says having a moderate amount of rice at every meal will reduce your desire to overeat bread products.
  5. Japanese women are the princesses of power breakfast. She attributes obesity to the consumption of American breakfast foods such as muffins, pancakes, eggs and bacon and recommends a more traditional Japanese breakfast of tofu, miso soup, rice and fish.
  6. Japanese women are crazy for dessert. Moriyama says they eat them less frequently and in smaller portion sizes.
  7. Japanese women have a different relationship with food. This may be the real secret to weight management as the author states Japanese women are "not into diets."
  8. Japanese exercise throughout the day.

Nutritional Pros and Cons

Japanese women are doing exactly what it takes to manage their weight (unless they move here): eating smaller portions and concentrating on lower calorie-dense and higher fiber foods. This is a dietary plan that is based on sound science and offers straightforward dietary advice that works. There are plenty of tempting recipes, too.

There's only one catch…You have to be a lover of traditional Japanese food.

Bottom Line

If you enjoy eating fish, rice and tofu for breakfast, you will feel right at home. Otherwise, there are no guidelines on how to transition into this diet if you want to hold onto some of your traditional American foods. Be prepared to purchase cookware and food ingredients that may not be and may not be sold in the average grocery store: bonito flakes, burdock root, mirin, shiso, a wok, rice cooker and the list goes on.

February 2006