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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014
Svelte? No sweat
Shikha Sharma, Hindustan Times
March 29, 2013
First Published: 14:58 IST(29/3/2013)
Last Updated: 18:33 IST(30/3/2013)

In an age when obesity has become a global issue, it can be useful to study the eating habits of women who seem to maintain a svelte figure despite what they eat. All of us might have heard the statement: “I am fat because of my bone structure,” some time or the other. But Japanese and French women, who carry off their enviable figures without dieting or gymming, seem to be exceptions. So what are their secrets?

Eat like the Japanese
Most Japanese women are slim not just because of their DNA. It is the country’s culture and lifestyle that gives Japanese women their fabulous figures. Put a Japanese girl in the United States and sure enough, she will begin to bloat much more than her counterparts in Japan.

Flaking it: Most non-vegetarian dishes in Japan consist of seafood cooked in less oil.

Eat fresh: This is a common habit among most Japanese people. They perceive food as something to be cooked and eaten fresh. The Japanese are not the ones to eat out of a packet. Despite the strides they’ve made in the packaging industry, most Japanese don’t consider eating packaged foods as proper meals. A typical Japanese family will always eat freshly cooked meals.

Shun the snacks: They like to have proper meals. It is very rare for the Japanese to eat on the go, while driving or walking in a mall.

Soup it up: Standard Japanese cuisine will always have lots of green vegetables, soups and steamed food.  Most non-vegetarian dishes consist of seafood and are cooked with almost no oil, making it one of the healthiest cuisines. Chefs there revel in preserving the natural taste and flavour of food. Miso and many soya delicacies are on the menus, providing them with a healthy source of protein. Never say fry: Steaming and grilling in natural, healthy oils are the preferred styles of cooking in Japan. They are wary of frying their food and have dairy foods and dairy products in very meagre quantities.

Eat just enough: In Japanese culture, having an unfit body is not considered desirable. Hara hachibun me (eat till you are 80 per cent full) is popular advice given to young women to moderate their eating habits.

Be Fit like the French
French women take delight in wearing fashionable clothes and there can be considerable pressure in a woman’s life to ensure that she stays svelte and fashionable no matter what her age is.

Small is beautiful: Eating many delicacies but in small portions is the hallmark of French culture.

Eat without guilt: While eating, women should savour the food. Eating with guilt can lead to unhealthy eating practices and weight gain. Pleasure eating is obviously not packaged foods. So, French women rarely eat fast food or junk food and most French cuisine is made of fresh ingredients.

Bite right: Small portions are the hallmark of French eating. Eating many delicacies in small quantities is intrinsic to the culture. Walk the talk: French women do not need to gym as they are on their feet all the time.

Eat on time: Close to 60 per cent of food eaten by French women is eaten by 3 pm, and late-night eating is not the accepted thing.

From HT Brunch, March 31

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