Tired of counting calories and points? Well, there may be an easier approach to healthy eating without all the formulas and restrictions. The Japanese concept of Shoku-Iku can teach you an easy, common sense approach to making healthy choices and getting more satisfaction from your meals.
Healthy eating without all the counting (yes please!)
When you change your relationship with food—and your perspective on eating—making healthy choices becomes automatic, says Makiko Sano, author of the new cookbook Healthy Japanese Cooking: Simple Recipes for a Long Life, The Shoku-Iku Way. In the book, she describes how the “common sense” principles of Shoku-Iku—a Japanese concept of preparing and combining food—has the power to energize you through nutrition.
Forget calorie counting, says Sano, who grew up in Japan but has been living in London for the past 20 years. Instead, just strive for balance. “Most Japanese people don’t know how many calories are in a dish,” she says. “But I know that if I had a big breakfast in the morning—if it was quite heavy—to have a light dish like a seaweed salad for lunch.
Besides offsetting heavier meals with lighter ones, the key principles of Shoku-Iku can help you achieve that effortless balance.
Eat and Prepare More Dishes
While Western diets often focusing on limiting what you eat (low-carb, gluten-free, etc.), the Shoku-Iku way emphasizes eating multiple small dishes at every meal, which are shared. So instead of a main dish, a starch, and a vegetable, a dinner would have lots of small plates, including many different colored vegetables plus rice and some proteins.
Make Mealtime a Ritual
Taking time to honor your food is also crucial to the Shoku-Iku way. If you’re always eating on the run, it’s easy to forget everything you’ve taken in—and makes that mental balancing act more difficult. While Sano acknowledges that it isn’t practical for everyone to sit down to three cooked, plated meals a day, she says that even if you grab a sandwich from the deli for lunch, take at least a few minutes at your desk to appreciate your meal enough to remember it later.
Remember the Number Five
When you’re planning or preparing your meals, “eat foods from five food groups that appeal to your five senses, that contain five tastes, and which aim to reflect five colors.” Of course, acknowledges Sano, you might not be able to do this every day. But simply thinking about that variety will help you expand your palate and create balanced, healthy meals.
This dish is light, easy and quick to prepare (it takes just minutes to cook!). Plus, it’s full of brain-boosting, anti-aging omega-3s.
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