More myths about Japan, or maybe myths about food?

Growing up in Australia, there are things you hear so often you accept them as gospel truth.

The food pyramid, for example, that's an absolute fact, right.  If you want to be healthy and fit and NOT DIE, you follow the food pyramid.

Included in this are these FACTS:

  • If you don't eat FIVE serves of vegetables a day, you WILL DIE! And you most definitely get scurvy! A serve of vegetables is about half the size of your plate and that is necessary to sustain life. If you don't give your child 5 serves of vegetables every day, they will get scurvy for sure and everyone will know you are a BAD MOTHER.
  • If you eat carbs - refined carbs, obviously NOT carbs in vegetables (because you need them to live), you will get fat as a house. You won't be able to fit in your house because you are too fat from eating carbs.  Carbs are from the devil!
  • Fat - also from the devil.

Since I've been living in Japan, I have not eaten five serves of vegetables in day ever.  Well maybe once or twice.  If I ate five serves of vegetables a day, I'd have no money leftover for anything else.  It's like 100 yen for a small vegetable (or piece of) here - 1 carrot is 100 yen, 1 tiny piece of pumpkin is 100 yen.  Maybe I could go somewhere to buy up in bulk but there'd be nowhere for me to store my haul of vegies anyway.

If you go out to eat, you might get a tiny side dish of pickles, you might get some shredded cabbage or maybe a salad.  Unless you have a salad, you sure as hell don't get an array of vegetables - in a rainbow of bright colours to ensure you are getting all the essential vitamins.

Yet, people here, they aren't dead.  They don't have obvious signs of scurvy.  They seem to be doing just fine.  

As for carbs, in case you didn't know it, people here eat a shitload of rice.  I went to a tempura place last night - you get soba noodles and tempura ON RICE.  That's two big serves of carbs in one meal.

And the bread - it's difficult to get any kind of wholegrain bread.  It's all white and fluffy with slices the size of bricks.

Yet girls here are super skinny.  How is that?  They eat carbs.  Or maybe they just pretend to eat carbs... I don't know but it goes against everything I've been taught.

Same with fat.  At home, I'd painstakingly trim every bit of fat off my meat (I actually don't like it anyway) but here, if the meat isn't marbled with fat, people won't eat it.

Pretty much, unless you eat a traditional diet here - fish, pickles, miso etc everything you buy is full of sugar and other crap.  I've never been able to buy real fruit juice, just the stuff that is sold as "fruit drink" in Australia.


What's with all this?  Are Australians different in their dietary needs to Japanese?  Japanese people seem to be doing okay and Japanese girls are super skinny (although I don't know if you are regard being super skinny as an indicator of health).

Do Japanese people look fine on the outside but are really ticking time bombs of illness underneath (actually a lot of businessmen look kind of grey in the face and not that healthy... the old folks though, tough as old boots).

Have I been lied to all my life?

Edited to add Japanese food pyramid from Fashion Hayley.


Edited to add the Western food pyramid

Interestingly enough, the Western one does have a lot more serves of carbs but neither say what exactly a serving size is.