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Health Benefits of Japanese Food

I consider myself lucky to have grown up in a Japanese bubble within the suburbs of Chicago. While I might not have appreciated taking bento and onigiri to school, and the unwanted attention it generated when I was a child, today I fully appreciate the fact that I grew up not on hamburgers and fries, but on a healthy diet consisting mainly of fish, tofu, vegetables and rice.

This doesn’t mean that all Japanese food is healthy; it is certainly easy NOT to eat a traditional Japanese diet in Japan. When I was an exchange student in southern Osaka, I made the mistake of gorging on the tasty treats that were cheap and readily available; korroke (fried potato croquettes), thick slices of Japanese toast, and savory okonomiyaki pancakes; as well as the American foods that all college kids crave; peanut butter, pizza, and sweets. I promptly gained over 20 pounds in less than a year.

After returning to the US, my weight fluctuated throughout the years as I ate Japanese food less than 50% of the time. However, as I grew older, I found that I felt noticeably better when eating an all-Japanese diet. After changing my eating habits, my weight stabilized at a healthy level, without dieting or cravings. What’s more, enjoying Japanese food has led to a deep appreciation of my native culture, and has extended to all areas of my life. In essence, I came back home.

Next: How the Japanese Stay Slim


Not all Japanese food is healthy; Okonomiyaki (savory pancakes) are delicious, but loaded with sugar and fat