Okinawa diet: the diet to live longer
What if we adopted the diet of the inhabitants of Okinawa, the Japanese island of centenarians? Studies show it: among the factors that influence their longevity, as well as the very low rate of disease and obesity, nutrition plays a central role. This is a fact highlighted by the documentary series Blue Zones: the secrets of longevity on Netflix, directed by Dan Buettner, as well as the book Okinawa Diet Day by Anne Dufour and Lawrence Wittner. Here is an in-depth look at the eating habits that you too could adopt to ensure excellent health, a slim figure, and the energy of a thirty-year-old up to a hundred years old and beyond.
The 5 nutritional precepts of the Okinawan diet
1. The rule hara hachi bu
The principle of hara hachi bu essentially consists of stopping eating a few moments before reaching satiety when the stomach is 80% full (and you feel a slight urge). To achieve this goal, there is nothing better than eating mindfully, away from screens and other distractions, savoring every bite, and making all the senses work. If you follow this practice to control your appetite – and, with it, your calorie intake and weight – you will feel lighter when you leave the table, and your energy levels will rise more quickly. It’s just a matter of getting used to it, which usually happens after about twenty meals.
2. Small portions (I’m sorry)
Say goodbye to the single dish. According to the Okinawans, the best way to eat is to multiply the dishes, serving them in small portions, here called to eat. All the dishes are placed in the center of the table, served at the same time, and shared among the members of the community as part of a convivial moment (the community spirit here is greater than elsewhere, another factor which, apparently, contributes to longevity records of the local population). The idea is to eat everything but in small quantities. The tradition includes rice (or starch), soup (miso or vegetable), and at least three courses. Of course, everything must be prepared at home with the freshest products.
3. Vegetables: up to half of the plate
Vegetables are an essential part of the Okinawan diet and must be present in our dishes to ensure a supply of good nutrients at every meal. Meat, however, takes a back seat (fish and tofu take precedence) and is considered a simple accompaniment, consumed in small portions.
4. The 3 cooking methods
Their “healthy” diet also includes a trio of optimized cooking methods:
– Raw (or uncooked), which means more chewiness, a lower glycemic index, and no loss of vitamins and minerals.
– Semicotto: freshly fried or al dente foods guarantee the same benefits as raw ones.
– Boiled, which means fat-free cooking. This is also one of their tips for losing weight: meat is often boiled to eliminate fat.
5. Desserts? Absolutely not!
It goes against the hara hachi bu rule of stopping eating when the stomach is 80% full, as dessert is generally consumed after reaching the satiety threshold. To this end, it is recommended to slow down your meal and eat slowly. If the craving is too strong, opt for fruit or sugar-free coffee or tea.
More tips can be found in the book Okinawa Diet Day by Anne Dufour and Lawrence Wittner.
Book – The Okinawan Diet
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This article was originally published in French Vogue