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Shocking confession coming up:
I eat too much. Boom.
The sad thing is I don’t even eat very much. If you laid out everything I eat in a day or a week, it really wouldn’t look shocking. In fact, it’s probably a fraction of what some people eat.
Unfortunately, what other people do is utterly irrelevant when it comes to your own body weight. There are so many diets, ab-developing exercises and ‘fool-proof’ weight-loss methods flying around like a veritable storm of poison arrows, but it’s all nonsense. No one can dictate to you what is going to work for you. Every single person is different – every person has a different genetic make-up, body-type, metabolism, level of daily activity, and racial heritage.
It isn’t a coincidence that a large percentage of the Japanese population have lactose intolerance. Cow’s milk is a recent addition to their diet, as are bread products like cake, pastries and buns. Also, Japanese people lack the enzyme to digest alcohol efficiently. It doesn’t stop them drinking, mind – it just ensures rather undignified scenes as the ‘salarymen’ of Tokyo loll around on the last train like little red-faced, over-stuffed toys; singing tunelessly, pulling their shoes off and gazing blearily at their toes, or simply snoring with abandon on some poor commuter’s rigid shoulder.
The traditional Japanese diet consists of fish, rice, seaweed, soy products, eggs, vegetables, fermented food (pickles, soy beans, miso for example) and yams. This is what my ancestors ate, and this is what my digestive system has evolved to expect.
Imagine the shock to my poor belly then when, within the space of one generation, it was trying to cope with cheese, milk, bread, cake, more cake, red meat, potatoes and sugar. And crisps. This is obviously another possible factor exacerbating my eczema.
Now picture a lovely French baguette, spread generously with butter, and filled with cheese and cured meats, accompanied by a side of French fries, a glass of red wine…followed by ice-cream for pudding.
Sounds like a perfectly plausible meal for some (lucky) people. But my body would receive this offering with exasperation and defiance. It would begin by inflating my stomach like a balloon – also my fingers, ankles and wrists would become waterlogged in an effort to soothe the inflammation. Likely, my immune system would jump hysterically into full-on emergency, war operation ammo mobilisation – shooting histamines into my blood stream like a jammed AK47, causing my eyes to swell and water copiously, and hives to appear on my skin.
I get the message. I am not evolved to eat this stuff.
But I’m surrounded by it.
I know that my ancestors would have eaten a little rice soup, mixed with simmered vegetables, seaweed, and perhaps a sliver of grilled fish for breakfast, but when there are two kids going to two different schools, packed lunches to make, PE kits to assemble, cats to muck out and feed (and inject) and crossfit classes to rush to (5 minutes late = 20 extra burpees), am I REALISTICALLY going to make an ancestral breakfast instead of rustling up a slice of toast??
I should. And I have tried. But I cave under the pressure after only a few days; I rant and rave about the fact that, if I lived in Japan, I could grab an ancestral breakfast from any convenience store. Rah.
This is a shame. Because even when I manage a Japanese diet for just 2 or 3 days in a row, I feel SO MUCH BETTER. Not a bit better. HUGE amounts better.
Before all these trendy doctors started blathering about matching food intake to racial/ethnic metabolic backgrounds, I’d already worked it out. Aaaaages ago. Because it’s not rocket science – we will feel most comfortable eating the food that our previous generations were eating.
I watched in sympathy as a Japanese girl I met at university, staying in the same hall of residence, gradually ballooned in front of my eyes over the year she was here – from a typically petite size 6 or 8, to a rotund, doughy-faced warped mirror-image of herself. Not surprising when you consider our daily dining experience involved about 6 different carbohydrates (lasagne with chips, potato salad, accompanied by garlic bread, with rice pudding for dessert….anyone?) Everyone else seemed ok with it, but not us Asians. On Saturday afternoons, the tiny kitchenette was always crammed with Chinese students furtively cooking rice and stirfried vegetables.
I need to talk about portion sizes, but that’s a whole new rant – worthy of its own blog post.
Basically, when I revealed the stunning news earlier that I eat too much, what I MEANT to say was, ‘I eat too much of the wrong food’. I know exactly what needs to happen now, but I also know that I will struggle to implement this solution, because I’ve failed so many times already.
I need to find a balance so that my belly, who seems to have missed the memo about me being a Japanese British hybrid, can coexist with my busy western-orientated lifestyle, whilst also appreciating that good food rates pretty highly on my ‘reasons to live’ list.
Any advice gratefully accepted.
P.S I should tell you that, as I proof read this copy, I am stuffing a smoked cheese, ham and salad sandwich into my mouth. Maybe there’s no fixing this particular kind of stupid.