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Blog Nutrition Diets Shokuiku Diet: The Japanese Approach To Nutrition

Shokuiku Diet: The Japanese Approach To Nutrition

shokuiku diet

A lot has been said about what it takes to lose pounds. For the most part, people believe you have to maintain a calorie deficit, exclude junk food, do exercise, and keep away from bad carbs. As a result of this view, most weight watchers limit themselves to foods, smoothies, and salads that they do not enjoy whatsoever. The problem with this approach is that most people quit and end up gaining all the weight back down the line. Instead of such a strategy, fitness gurus recommend adopting a healthy program that advocates for a healthy lifestyle that helps you lose pounds and keep them off. One of these programs is the Shokuiku diet.

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When most people think of the Shokuiku diet, they likely think of Japanese menus and foods that would be flooding their diet plan. This is probably the reason why most people have not considered trying this meal plan. However, one could not be farther from the truth. You will probably be shocked by the simplicity of this diet plan and its advocacy for healthy eating habits. With that in mind, what is the Shokuiku diet and what are its food guidelines?

In this article, we will explore the famous Japanese Shokuiku diet. We will take a look at a little of its history and the guidelines for what, how, and when you should eat. Additionally, we will lay out its potential health benefits and analyze if it is worth a try. Check it out!

What Is The Shokuiku Diet?

When most of us hear of diet plans, we immediately think of scheduled meal plans to help us attain a specific goal. This could be the goal of losing weight or building muscle. You immediately should think of foods to incorporate, exciting menus, and cooking methods to give a try.

That said, the first assumption most people have about this diet plan is that it is strictly a Japanese food-based meal plan. Most individuals expect to find Japanese recipes, menus, foods, and snacks when using this diet plan.

However, the Shokuiku diet is not like your typical meal plan. It refers to a traditional Japanese philosophy that advocates for healthy eating habits (5). The diet guides you on the foods you are supposed to eat to help maintain or create a healthy eating habit.

Read More: A Japanese Breakfast Banana Diet For Simple And Quick Weight Loss

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The Lowdown On The Shokuiku Diet

Now, most people may think that these healthy eating habits will mean doing possibly everything the Japanese way. However, this is not the case. You do not have to cook using Japanese recipes or traditional Japanese methods to abide by this diet.

Instead, all you ought to do is abide by the guidelines of what you should consume and how. The diet has been specifically designed to help change your eating habits for the better and in the long run. It is a straightforward approach which can help you lose pounds both safely and healthily. 

The foundation of this Japan diet plan involves eating more vegetables, fish, and fruits. It also recommends consuming healthy options of rice and tofu (2). As we all know, rice is a staple in Japan. Most households in Japan will even have rice for breakfast. 

The Shokuiku diet plan is not talking about how you will cut out rice consumption. Instead, it proposes you opt for healthier rice options such as brown rice. It means that the Shokuiku diet promotes healthy rice options, tofu, fish, vegetables, and fruits (2).

As mentioned earlier, this diet also focuses on the implementation of healthy eating habits. Therefore, the diet’s foundation also emphasizes serving smaller food portions and eating slowly and mindfully (2).

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A Brief History Of The Shokuiku Diet

There is a reason why the Shokuiku diet was introduced as a food program in Japan. This also perhaps explains why Shokuiku means food education. This diet was promoted in that country to precisely introduce and advocate for healthy eating habits.

In Japan, the cases of obesity and metabolic syndrome continue to increase. Child obesity is one of the growing concerns that the country desperately tries to get a handle on (8). Studies reveal that the high incidence and prevalence of obesity cases stems from the country’s common inappropriate eating habits.

Some of these include skipping breakfast, having little to no vegetables, and consuming excessive fat (8). These are some of the contributors to obesity. Given that many people in Japan have adopted these unhealthy habits, it is not surprising that obesity is gaining dominance in the country.

The country came up with the Basic Law of Shokuiku to help end the alarming obesity and metabolic syndrome rates. This law is the foundation of the Shokuiku diet. It explains the recommended foods and guidelines to follow when using this diet plan.

The Shokuiku Law

It was enacted in 2005 and became the first law in Japan to regulate an individual’s dietary and eating habits (8). As stated above, it states the guidelines and foundations of the Shokuiku diet. The law advocates for healthy eating habits and the consumption of more vegetables, fruits, fish, tofu, and healthier rice options (2).

To effectively implement the law, the country has urged licensed dietitians and nutritionists to further advocate for nutrition education in various settings (8). It has even been introduced in schools as a school-lunch program.

The country hopes that these efforts will help reduce obesity risks and that of other lifestyle-related diseases. Similarly, Japan hopes the approach will increase nutrition and healthy food knowledge to help individuals adopt appropriate diet and eating habits (8).

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Why Consider The Shokuiku Diet?

There are numerous and solid reasons why you should give this diet a try. However, as always, the first step you must take is consulting with a healthcare provider and a licensed nutritionist or dietitian. Most people are considering following the Shokuiku Japanese diet due to its numerous health benefits. These include:

A Healthier Lifestyle

It would help if you considered healthy living, especially in today’s society, to avoid or prevent numerous lifestyle-associated diseases. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acknowledges that a healthy diet can help pave your way to healthy living (3).

The agency further acknowledges that a healthy diet does not just pay attention to eating healthy foods. Yes, it does agree with eating more vegetables, fruits, lean meats, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products (3).

However, it also adds that you need to watch your eating habits. It suggests you eat slowly and mindfully and watch your added sugar, salt, and saturated fat consumption (3). The Shokuiku diet emphasizes these two aspects as denoted by the CDC. It recommends consuming more fruits and vegetables and also eating slowly and mindfully. It is, therefore, an excellent diet plan to use to pave your way to healthy living.

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Reduced Risk Of Obesity

As mentioned earlier, Japan has implemented the Basic Law of Shokuiku which advocates following the Shokuiku diet. Since its implementation, studies reveal that the country has reported a decline in its obesity cases. 

According to WebMD, the country in 2007 was enjoying the number one lowest obesity rate position in the developed world. The obesity rate was standing at 3% (2). It was pretty low compared to that of France (11%) and American (32%) (2).

Reduced Risk Of Developing Lifestyle-Related Diseases

Obesity is not the only health condition you could prevent when you start following this Japanese diet plan. According to the Mayo Clinic, obesity is also linked to numerous lifestyle-related diseases. Some of these include heart diseases and strokes, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, digestive problems, osteoarthritis, and sleep apnea (7). 

Following this diet plan can help reduce the risk of developing these potentially severe health problems associated with obesity. Make sure you talk to your doctor if you consider starting this diet plan to reduce your risk of any of the named health problems.

Read More: Benefits Of Miso Soup For Weight Loss: Dropping Pounds The Japanese Way

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Better Heart Health

The emphasis of the Shokuiku diet is on healthy whole foods. According to WebMD, whole foods is a general term that includes vegetables, fruits, and whole grains (9). Eating a whole food diet is crucial as it helps with improving your heart health.

These whole foods are loaded with vitamins, fiber, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants (9). The high fiber content in these foods helps fight cardiovascular disease and diabetes (9). These are some of the best foods to have to improve your heart health.

Weight Control

One of the best long-term diet plans that you can follow for healthy and steady weight loss is the Shokuiku diet. It is also an excellent diet plan to follow if you want to maintain an ideal weight. The rationale behind this stems from various foundations of the diet. Some of these include:

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  • Its Focus On The Consumption Of Low-Calorie And Healthy Foods

We earlier established that this diet advocates for more consumption of vegetables and fruits. Vegetables are low-calorie foods that are among the best food options for any weight watcher. One cup of raw spinach has about seven calories, while one cup of chopped and boiled broccoli has roughly 31 calories (10). 

The low-calorie content in these foods can help you maintain a calorie deficit for weight loss while still acquiring essential minerals and vitamins (4). Similarly, this diet can help you lose weight safely due to its focus on food servings, ratios, and other eating habits.

  • Its Focus On Food Servings And Portions

According to Medical News Today, overeating, even for these low-calorie vegetables, can lead to weight gain (1). So, you have to pay attention to your food servings. The best way to track how much food you consume is by using measuring cups while cooking and serving size guides (1).

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  • Its Focus On Mindful Eating

The other foundation of this diet that can help you with weight control is eating slowly and mindfully. According to Medical News Today, research indicates that eating mindfully can help weight watchers drop some pounds (6). But what does eating mindfully mean? Medical News Today reveals that eating mindfully includes all of the following (6):

  • Paying attention to your food. To help you do this, you need to avoid distractions such as your phone and the television. Do not work, watch, or scroll through social media as you eat. Instead, give your sole attention to the food in front of you.
  • Being present. Some people may have a plate of food in front of them but are hardly present emotionally. It may lead to overeating, which increases your calorie intake. Take time to savor the food so that you know what and how much of the food you are consuming.
  • Chewing food slowly. Even if the food is to die for, you must slowly and thoroughly chew it. This will help avoid problems such as choking that may arise when you swallow big chunks of food. Similarly, chewing slowly helps you enjoy the food and makes you recognize your fullness sooner.
  • Eating while hungry. Another highly overlooked mindful eating concept is that of eating when we feel hungry. A lot of times, most of us eat to fill a void. It so happens that you tend to eat when you are stressed, tired, nervous, anxious, bored, or when intoxicated (11). The effect of eating when not hungry is an increased calorie intake, which may compromise your efforts of maintaining a calorie deficit for weight loss.
  • Eating in silence. Eating in silence is one of the table manners that individuals are urged to adopt. Believe it or not, it is also another mindful eating technique. Eating in silence prevents you from choking while speaking.
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Improved Overall Health

Another benefit of following the Shokuiku diet is its ability to improve your overall health. It focuses on the consumption of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and other healthy foods. These foods help reduce the risk of various diseases like obesity and cardiovascular disease. 

In particular, the diet restricts the consumption of junk or processed foods. These foods are associated with severe health problems, including increased cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, and type 2 diabetes risk.

It also emphasizes the importance of eating while hungry, choosing healthier food options, and eating mindfully. Following these guidelines help improve your healthy living habits, which also help support your overall health.

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When Can I Start The Shokuiku Diet?

With this in mind, you may think this diet plan sounds promising, and you are thinking of giving it a try. You are in fact contemplating the best time to implement it. Is it after you ditch your old weight loss diet plan or after you are done with it? Well, it should be neither of the above.

The best time to start practicing the Shokuiku diet program is after you get the go-ahead from both your physician and nutritionist. Remember that you should make any major dietary or lifestyle changes without seeking professional advice. It may cost you in the end due to a lack of knowledge of the program.

So, first, schedule a meeting with both your doctor and dietitian. They will go through the Shokuiku guidelines with you as well as your health and fitness goals. They can only recommend this dietary program if they believe it is the best eating plan.

Intermittent Fasting According To The Age

The Bottom Line

The Shokuiku diet is more of a diet program whose foundation is eating healthy whole foods, eating mindfully, and watching the food servings. Following this diet can help with weight control, improve your overall health, reduce obesity and lifestyle-related diseases, and adopt a healthy lifestyle.

It is an excellent eating approach to help with weight loss because it incorporates healthy eating habits that help in slimming. It can help you make long-lasting healthy changes that pave your way to a healthier lifestyle.

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DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on for decision-making. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. 10 tips for successful weight loss (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
  2. Diets of the World: the Japanese Diet (2007, webmd.com)
  3. Feeling the Pressure? Hypertension (or High Blood Pressure) Control is Possible (2021, cdc.gov)
  4. How can I lose weight? (2021, medicalnewstoday.com)
  5. How to Define Family Meals in “Shokuiku” (Food and Nutrition Education) (2015, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  6. Mindful eating may help people lose weight, study finds (2017, medicalnewstoday.com)
  7. Obesity (2020, mayoclinic.org)
  8. School-based “Shokuiku” program in Japan: application to nutrition education in Asian countries (2012, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  9. The Benefits of Healthy Whole Foods (2009, webmd.com)
  10. What are the most healthful vegetables? (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)
  11. Why Do You Eat When You’re Not Hungry? (2019, webmd.com)
R. Mogeni
R. Mogeni

Rodah is a competent and skilful writer with a deep interest in nutrition and healthy living. Her speciality is writing articles that fall under the fitness and weight loss category. Her unparalleled style of writing and ability to explain difficult concepts in simple terms has made her garner much acclaim.
Her top priority is creating informative pieces that advocate for or propel individuals towards healthier lifestyles. She believes that health is wealth, which is why she chose fitness and nutrition as her area of expertise. She believes adopting such a lifestyle is easy, as long as you are consistent, hopeful, and disciplined.

K. Fleming
K. Fleming

I am a U.S. educated and trained Registered Dietitian (MS, RD, CNSC) with clinical and international development experience. I have experience conducting systematic reviews and evaluating the scientific literature both as a graduate student and later to inform my own evidence-based practice as an RD. I am currently based in Lusaka, Zambia after my Peace Corps service was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic and looking for some meaningful work to do as I figure out next steps. This would be my first freelance project, but I am a diligent worker and quite used to independent and self-motivated work.

Kristen Fleming, MS, RD, CNSC

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