Shoku Iku: A Japanese Philosophy for Diet & Health
Here at GoBiotix, we are committed to finding and sharing new ways to live a healthier lifestyle. If you’re looking to mix up your diet in favor of something a bit more balanced, shoku-iku might be just what your body needs.
Shoku-iku is the Japanese teaching of nutritional education. Those unfamiliar with shoku-iku will find it to be radically different from anything we learn here in the United States. Western culture tends to focus more so on the science behind dieting. We study how much food we should eat, when we should eat it, and what kinds of foods are best avoided.
But the Japanese culture looks at food and nutrition in conjunction with nature and philosophy.
The goal is to develop a sustainable lifestyle that incorporates proper nutrition.
To help you better understand the principles behind shoku-iku, we’re going to guide you through the four main parts that make up this unique system for eating and living.
Shoku-iku’s Four Principles
It’s Not About Counting Calories
The first thing you need to do is try and disconnect the thinking of counting calories as a means to lose weight or eat healthier. Studies have shown time and again that this method is not beneficial for a lot of people.
In the study of shoku-iku, it’s more about the psychological effect that foods have on the human body, not the amount that we take in each day. It is believed that foods play a big role in the way we think, act, and feel.
It’s also important to shift your viewpoint from thinking about the health-related facts about food to one of why we overeat in the first place. What is the reason for wanting to eat more or less on any given day? Are you feeling blue and decide to eat more as a way to cope with how you are feeling?
Shoku-iku teaches us that we need to focus on the way we are feeling to fully understand why and what we are eating. Our bodies are naturally designed in ways that let us know the moment we are full and no longer require sustenance.
Harahachi-bunme is the Japanese term for focusing in on our full stomach. Essentially, it means to eat until you are 80% full.
In short, this ties back to one of the most important principles in food education: never eat too much or too little.
Whole Foods Are King
The first principle isn’t effective unless you are adhering to the second principle--change your meals to consist of whole foods. The processed foods that we largely consume today are loaded with fat and sugar.
They are specifically designed to be tasty and easy to eat. But that doesn’t mean they are good for us. Our bodies require lots of vitamins and nutrients. Unfortunately, these are lost when we eat foods that focus on convenience over nutrition.
Our bodies then desire to seek out these foods that are low in the substances we need for leading a healthy lifestyle. Interestingly, these types of foods fail our bodies in more ways than one.
Referring back to “hara hachi-bunme,” processed foods result in our bodies not knowing when to tell us when we’re 80% full. This turns into overeating – and overeating unhealthy food, at that! While we may subconsciously think we are eating too much – and we are – we are in actuality not getting the proper nutrients we need.
This makes it difficult for us to think, react, sleep, function, and so on. The negative effects are astounding. They serve to compound until we are out of shape and extremely unhealthy. Furthermore, when illnesses strike, our bodies are incapable of adequately healing. This is when more serious medical complications arise, like heart disease, obesity, or diabetes.
Plenty of Variety Matters
You know how easy it is to get tired of eating the same thing day in, day out. It’s important that you keep your taste buds happy by introducing new foods into your diet. In the United States, it’s all too common to focus on the foods that should be avoided.
But Japanese culture is just the opposite. Instead of eliminating foods, they find new and exciting things to eat as a means of spicing up their diet. Variety is indeed a great thing.
But it’s important not to confuse variety with just new kinds of foods. While it is good to try new things, shoku-iku teaches us to introduce new ways of preparing foods. If you start to get tired of something, research a new way to make it. In Japan, meals are traditionally quite small in size, but they consist of many unique styles of cooking.
This is done to keep their diet from getting boring, thus satisfying their taste buds at the same time. If you are tired of grilling meat, for instance, try frying or broiling it next time. You can do this with countless foods across countless dishes.
The structure of Japanese food is also very important. The more you study shoku-iku, the more attuned you will become to their methods of preparation. With practice, you too will learn all of the different ways to create new and exciting dishes.
Learn to Share
Eating is a social event for many people. Here in the United States, we often eat with one another, whether it be friends or family. It isn’t uncommon to have a day of the week set aside for dining out so that we can enjoy the company of those close to us.
But the Japanese take it a step further. The fourth and last principle of shoku-iku is all about the emotional connection we share with our food and the joy it brings to us. But moreover, this principle focuses on the delight our food gives us and the need to share this with others.
Think about how you feel when you grab a quick burger from a fast-food joint. Now contrast that with the feelings you have when you go out with friends or family to a nice restaurant. There’s such a stark difference between hurriedly eating a cheap burger and soaking in the time you spend with loved ones over the course of a long meal.
The next time you eat, think of the shoku-iku philosophy and how you can incorporate it into your life. You may just find it to improve your mood and your diet.
Rethink Food Education
Remember, it’s not so much about the foods we eat, but how and why we eat them. When you start thinking about food in different terms, it becomes easier to adjust your diet into one of joy and satisfaction.
Instead of thinking about food as a controlled science that’s meant to help you lose weight or become healthier, think of it as joyful nourishment and sustainability.
The sooner you can distance yourself from counting calories or watching your weight, the sooner you will find the joy in food. You will be surprised how easy it becomes to eat better foods based on the principles of the shoku-iku.
With shoku-iku in mind, GoBiotix has a few probiotic, prebiotic, and enzymatic supplements that can help aid in your food journey depending on what your goal is for changing the way you eat.
If your goal is to inject a healthier diet into your life, try adding our Greens Superfood Juice. This powder is packed with essential nutrients our bodies need for strength and energy, while also helping to satisfy cravings and aid in digestion, supporting your ability to eat only as much as you need to.
If you need help losing weight naturally and safely, check out our Detox Probiotic. It’s a great way to give your body loads of healthy gut bacteria while improving the way your digestive system functions.
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