“Some people don’t do well because they don’t feel well,” that’s what Mr. Shoaff told his protégé, Jim Rohn, many years ago. I’m glad he did otherwise I might have never learned one of the best productivity secrets there is – our diet.
Growing up, dinner consisted of meat and potatoes. What can I say I’m English? It feels like a world ago, as for most of my life I’ve lived in Asia, with the last 21 years being in Japan.
When most people think of Japan, they think of ninjas, sushi, snowboarding and Pokemon, but what people might not realize is that Tokyo is home to the largest number of restaurants in the world at an incredible 150,000. Osaka, the country’s second biggest city is no slouch either, and it’s where I call home.
Living in Japan opened my eyes to so many things; the culture, the language, the people, the baths, but the biggest has to be food. Watching my son grow up here, I’ve seen firsthand the power of Japanese food on the young and old alike.
It’s a well-known fact that Japanese people have among the longest life expectancy in the world for both men and women. From what I have read and seen, I can find no single factor bigger than their diet that has made this possible.
While we’re the carnivores in the West, Japanese people have a much wider range of food at dinner time. Most of my clients agree that a typical week consists of fish about three times, chicken twice, and pork and beef once each. Quite a difference from my childhood when our diet consisted of steak, pork chops, mincemeat, chicken and every now and then, fish.
England may be famous for fish and chips, but it’s something you get when you eat out or are looking for takeout. The only fish I ever had at anyone’s home was salmon.
Every Japanese supermarket has an extensive fish section that has salmon, Buri (yellowtail), Hokke, Sama, shrimp, clams, plus many fish I don’t even know the name of, and that’s not including all the sashimi (raw fish) and sushi they have.
Most people are familiar with the Japanese people’s love of fish, but unless you live here and do the shopping regularly, you won’t uncover the true gems of the supermarket. I’m talking about the fruits and vegetables.
I remember when I used to scoff at paying two dollars for a rather small size tomato. They refer to them as fruit tomatoes here and practically every medium-size supermarket carries them. They are divine. My son who has loved tomatoes here since he was one, told me once that he doesn’t understand why his teachers sometimes give him chocolate, he’d prefer a tomato.
Besides tomatoes you’ve got a whole heap of vegetables that have no translation in English, or at least none that the average person has heard before. Recently, I’ve found okura and shishamon (smallish green peppers) particularly tasty. In England, America and Thailand, I ate vegetables out of necessity, these days, I eat them out of choice.
Then you have the fruits. To me, walking around Hankyu Department Store in Umeda and looking at all the fruits they have is like walking through Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. They are that good. Fruits here are seasonal, so it’s unlikely you’ll find your favorite fruit available all year round. Peaches in summer, grapes in fall, oranges in winter and strawberries in spring. I don’t even bat an eye when picking up about 10 strawberries for five bucks.
Last, but not least, we have miso soup. This has to be one of the greatest food creations ever. Throw in some vegetables of your choosing and you have an incredibly healthy soup. Most Japanese I know, have miso soup at least six times a week and thanks to the vegetables you get an incredible amount of nutrition and vitamins from it.
I’ve always been a foodie, but it wasn’t until I lived in Japan, that I realized just how much food impacts our lives. Food is the fuel for our body. If you owned a Ferrari you’d sure as heck put top quality fuel into it to ensure that you don’t damage its engine. Yet, so many of us fill ourselves with fast food, junk food, and oily food. It may taste good, going down, but there is a price to pay.
What makes food so deceptive is that we don’t realize how much it is affecting our lives until many months or years later.
For many people, there’s nothing like mom’s home cooked meals. I always loved my mother’s cooking, but sadly, she’s number three in my book. My homestay mother and my wife surpassed her and it’s all because of Japanese food.
So if you’re looking to lose weight or have a healthier diet, my best advice is throw away all those quick fix diets that you read about in books, and just jump on over to YouTube and try out some Japanese dishes. In the process, you’ll have stumbled onto one of the best productivity tips that so few people talk about. And if that’s not enough, in time, your body will thank you.