Japanese Diet

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)

japanese-dietThe Japanese Diet is the reason that Japan has some of the longest life expectancies in the world.

But what is less well known is that Japanese women have the lowest rates of obesity (only 2.9%) in modern cultures.

In Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat author Naomi Moriyama shares with readers the basic elements of the Japanese approach to eating stating that her book is “not a diet plan but a whole new way of falling in love with food”.

The Japanese Diet Basics

The emphasis is on small portions of fresh seasonal food. Dieters are advised to value quality over quantity and to eat slowly so as to appreciate the flavors of the food and reach a feeling of satisfaction with less food.

A major factor of the Japanese way of eating is to eat until 80% full. In addition a great deal of emphasis is placed on presentation and making the food look beautiful and appealing to the eye.

Dairy and bread are not part of the diet and when beef and chicken are included in meals they are regarded more as condiments rather than the main focus of the meal. Fresh fruit is the preferred dessert however if a richer dessert is eaten it is in very small quantities.

In Japan breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day and is often the largest. Moriyama introduces dieters to the concept of the Japanese power breakfast, which consists of miso soup, rice, egg or fish, vegetables, fruit and green tea.

Recommended Foods

Moriyama outlines the seven pillars of the Japanese diet that are the foundation of the dietary aspect of this plan:

  • Fish such as salmon and mackerel.
  • Vegetables including daikon radish and sea vegetables.
  • Rice (preferably brown).
  • Soy (tofu, miso, soy sauce, endamame).
  • Noodles (soba, udon, ramen, somen).
  • Fruit such as Fuji apples, tangerines, and persimmons.
  • Tea preferably green.

Sample Diet Plan


Miso Soup
1 cup white rice
1 egg
Nori seaweed strips
Green tea


Teriyaki fish
Asian greens
Green tea


Fuji Apple


Miso soup
Sea vegetables with tofu

Evening Snack


Look for more Asian inspired recipes here.

Exercise Recommendations

The Japanese Diet conveys to dieters that it is not enough to eat like a Japanese woman but it is necessary to adopt similar lifestyle habits.

The Japanese achieve a lot of physical activity by simple actions such as walking, climbing stairs and using a bicycle to run errands rather than relying on motorized transport.

Costs and Expenses

Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat retails at $13.00.

Click here to purchase this diet for a discounted price.

There may be an increased cost for groceries and equipment for food preparation especially in the initial stages of the diet.


  • No calorie counting.
  • Encourages freshly prepared meals based on whole foods.
  • Provides clear instructions on how to prepare the Japanese foods that are the foundation of the diet.
  • Encourages a balanced breakfast every day, which will reduce the likelihood of cravings or overeating later in the day.
  • Good for dieters who like to experiment with different flavors and cuisines.
  • Interesting reading for those who would like to know more about Japanese food culture and food history.


  • Very restrictive. Some dieters may be intimidated by the prospect of such a dramatic change in dietary style compared to a Western diet.
  • Will require more time to be spent on meal preparation.
  • May be difficult to obtain all the recommended ingredients.
  • Lacking specific guidelines for meal planning. Need to watch portion sizes.
  • Some dieters may not do well with the high amounts of carbohydrates from rice and noodles that are mostly based on refined wheat flour.
  • Difficult to follow for those who are on a sodium restricted diet.
  • Largely addressed towards women even though the plan is suitable for men as well.

Eating Healthy Foods is the Key

This is a healthy and balanced approach to eating particularly if brown rice is selected as the major source of complex carbohydrates in the diet and if generous portions of vegetables and fruit are included in the daily diet.

However, it is important to be aware that there is no magic to Japanese foods and if dieters are to be successful it will be necessary to pay attention to portion sizes and limit calorie rich foods in the diet.


  • Nakamura, Y., Okuda, N., Okamura, T., Kadota, A., Miyagawa, N., Hayakawa, T., … & Ueshima, H. (2014). Abstract P072: Low-Carbohydrate-Diets and Cardiovascular and Total Mortality in Japanese. A 29-year Follow-up of NIPPON DATA80. Circulation, 129(Suppl 1), AP072-AP072. link
  • Kano, M., Hotta, M., & Prasad, A. (2013). Inequalities in Noncommunicable Disease Mortality in the Ten Largest Japanese Cities. Journal of Urban Health, 90(6), 1041-1052. link
  • Watanabe, N., Kimura, S., Yamaguchi, A., & Hara, Y. (2014). PP234-MON: Comparison of the Nutritional Values of a Mediterranean Diet with Japanese and American Diets. Clinical Nutrition, 33, S216. link
 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
Last Reviewed: December 19, 2014. Disclaimer
  • RT

    omg i love JAPANESE FOOD its great especially the rice im in love with it and cant stop

  • Jonkers

    Harahachibunme is a saying from the island of Okinawa which roughly translates to 80%. The premise being as you reach the point of being 80% full you should curtail your eating because you most likely will soon be 100% full when your brain catches up to your stomach again. Japanese meals are not any longer to prepare unless you compare them to microwave meals, and frozen dinners. This should not be listed as a con as I believe it to be irrelevant and potentially incorrect about the diet. It can be difficult in many countries to get the foods traditionally served at Japanese meals but there are likely substitutions that could be made.

  • sara

    i love japanese food so much

  • karen

    is japanese food delicious???i don think so….

  • karen

    im a certified filipino and i want to taste those hell cuisines,,,,,!!!

  • Catherine

    Japanese women don’t get old or fat

  • mitsuki

    japanese food may be some what healthy, but its not too filling

  • maro

    i would try out there food for week

  • Lucy

    I’m going to fold japanese food into my diet after I’ve been on an elimation diet. I’m allergic to something and I have to figure that out first.

  • gazebo

    I think alot of people don’t know exactly what it feels like to be 80% full. I know that I’m use to eating until I’m full, not necessarily totally stuffed, but full. I’m still trying to master the art of eating less and accepting that I will not feel totally full. I think that’s the one major problem with this type of diet. How do you know if you are 80% full and know to stop eating?

  • pamela

    I just spent three weeks in Japan, ate very well (and often),and magically lost seven pounds. I wasn’t trying. I ate sweets everyday. The food is just not heavy in oil, and it is higher in water content,which made me feel very satisfied without tons of food. Of course, getting tofu that has such a great flavor and such fresh veggies could be challenging here.

  • Lyn Ando

    I love Japanese food, specially the one that my mother-in-law do in her Mie’s Kitchen XD. This book is really helpful, for any women or men who want to have a more healthy life. Obviously here where I am right now is impossible to find mane of the ingredients, and specially fresh ingridients. So what I did was to learn to feel 80% full and eat smaller portions, of the most healthy food I can find here and obviously eat rice instead of that many bread XD. Results that I lose weight and feel full of energy not of food ^_^

  • deekun

    HOW TO BECOME ONLY 80% FULL (for gazebo):

    Idea 1: Figure out how much you normally eat, then during your next meal measure out about 80% of the food you normally would.

    General tips:
    -eat slowly…enjoy the food and make sure you chew enough times. You will feel full sooner than usual.
    -use smaller plates…each serving will seem smaller

    Idea 2: Eat two helpings at a meal. The first helping is 50% of what you normally would eat, and the second helping is a bit smaller.

    Feeling 80% full is like feeling “I’m about to get full soon. I’ve eaten a lot, but I know that I can eat just a little more…”

    And I’m sure you can make up your own ideas for ways to only eat 80% of what you normally would. =)

  • jazmin

    won’t eating rice breakfast lunch & dinner make you gain weight faster ??

    • ted

      It would depend on how much rice you are eating.

  • Lucy”Lu”

    I don’t believe in “Diets”, but I do believe in Transformation. Afterall, a butterfly doesn’t go back to its Crysallis, does it? Once one receives facts and truth about anything, including nutrition, we either receive or reject it. Regardless of its validity and value.
    When we receive it, we apply it into our daily lives. Reject it and we suffer the concequences. The facts is: Japan is healthier than America. We MUST learn from what they’ve known for centuries! This book is an excellent resource!