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Portions and Little Bites

"What makes Japanese cuisine healthy?"
By: Nicole BautistaPortions and Little Bites

According to the Yale Center for International and Area Studies, Japanese food bowls are no bigger than the hand; their plates, too, are small. Japanese diners enjoy their dishes one bite at a time; that is, they don’t finish a course and move on to the next. What this does is it lets the diner enjoy a variety of tastes so that the seemingly small portions turn out to be just the right amount to eat. They have a bite of rice, take a little fish, wash it down with a gulp of soup, then taste a bit of the salad.

The slow-paced eating gives the brain time to realize that the hunger is satisfied. Of course, there are also the factors of color, variety, and “eating with your eyes.” One cannot overlook the literal beauty of a Japanese meal. The bowls, utensils, garnishes, and of course, the food items combine to make a masterpiece of color and variety. According to Naomi Moriyama, author of the book Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat, the more beautiful the plate, the slower you’ll eat to savor the experience. But beyond that, there’s something about color that makes nutritionists happy.

According to Karen Ansel, a registered dietician from the American Dietetics Association (ADA), “adding a splash of colorful seasonal foods to your plate makes for more than just a festive meal. A rainbow of foods creates a palette of nutrients, each with a different bundle of potential benefits for a healthful eating plan…. A colorful meal is not only visually appealing, but it also contains a variety of nutrients and is quite flavorful.”

So, what makes a Japanese meal healthy? It is composed of many different dishes, which provide variety; it is served in small helpings that when taken together make up a filling meal without too many calories; and, it is visually appealing—foods, with their natural color, complement one another in a way that makes both artists and dieticians happy! Doesn’t it just make you want to say gochisousama deshita?

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