Japanese Nutritionist, Six American Foods I Never Eat

Growing up in Japan, I fell in love with food at a young age. One of my favorite things to do is to cook for friends and family.

Japanese people are very intentional about their diet — and it shows: Japan is home to some of the world’s longest-living people. My mom, a cancer survivor, is 86 years old, and my aunt is still going strong at 98.

When I moved to the U.S., I tried a variety of popular American diets and food trends. But my body didn’t respond well to a lot of it. Now, as a nutritionist, my approach centers mostly around Japanese eating habits.

I always recommend foods that have medicinal properties and that promote longevity. Here are six foods you’ll never see me eating:

  1. Hot dogs

Processed meats are almost impossible to avoid if you live in the U.S. But not only are they high in salt, they also contain saturated fats that can raise your risk of certain cancers like colorectal cancer and breast cancer.

What I eat instead: When I want something high in protein but low in salt and preservatives, I opt for tofu. I also love multigrain rice balls with tuna wrapped in seaweed, which is packed with important minerals such as iron, calcium, folate and magnesium.

2. Fast food hamburgers

But like with most fast food, it made me feel bloated and tired, so I’ve since stopped. Plus, it’s high in salt, trans fats and saturated fats, which can raise the level of LDL “bad” cholesterol in your blood.

What I eat instead: Tofu burgers are surprisingly tasty. I like to put a tofu patty on a crispy brown rice ball, topped with some edamame. It’s both an economical and environmentally friendly choice.

3. Sugary sodas

Drinking sugary sodas regularly (one to two cans a day or more) can put you at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Be mindful of sodas with artificial sweeteners, too, which can make it harder for you to focus and even trigger migraines.

What I eat instead: My favorite refreshing, low-calorie beverages are green teas, like an iced matcha or hojicha (which contains less caffeine).

4. Sugary breakfast cereals

When we’re in a rush and have no time to eat in the morning, it’s tempting to default to cereal. But I never eat any with added sugars or ingredients that I don’t recognize.

Too much sugar can lead to issues with your blood pressureweight gainincreased inflammation, and put you at risk for diabetes.

What I eat instead: My go-to healthy breakfast alternative is natto, a Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans, with some multigrain rice.

5. Cream cheese

Dairy is a great source of calcium and protein, but not all cheese products will give you the best health benefits.

I tend to avoid cream cheese because the most popular consumer brands will only get you around five grams of protein. And just one ounce of it can contain a whopping 27 milligrams of cholesterol.

What I eat instead: My favorite flavorful spread is kinako, which is made from soy flour and sesame paste.

6. Candy

You don’t have to eliminate all candies from your diet. Dark chocolate, for example, can be rich in disease-fighting antioxidants. But too much sugary, corn starch-laden sweets can be harmful to your heart and your brain.

What I eat instead: To satisfy my sweet cravings, I’ll have chia seed pudding with honey or agave syrup, frozen bananas, or unsweetened dark chocolate. Of course, a small piece of cake with friends is perfectly fine on special occasions.

**By Michiko Tomioka


2 Replies to “Japanese Nutritionist, Six American Foods I Never Eat”

  1. Gaz

    I bought tins of plain mineral water that was supposed to be an Italian brand and claimed the water was sourced from a natural spring in Italy (won’t mention names, easy to look up). I took a few mouthfuls and immediately knew it was not pure, I do not drink tap water, haven’t for years. To me it tasted like chemicals, possibly tap water. After the few mouthfuls I noticed my gums and throat hurt a little so I knew it had been tampered with and had something unsafe in it. It was not natural, pure and doubtful it even came from a spring. I threw all the cans in the bin. Went onto their website and in their T&C and Privacy Policy (hidden) it showed who owned the brand: The Cabal. No surprise. Beware they are infiltrating as much as they can to get those who try to consume healthy and organic.

  2. Emma

    Soy soy soy, does he have stocks in soy production, or is he a soy boy 😉
    Does he prefere GMO soy, or organic soy?

    Saturated fat are able to heal, but nothing should be exaggerated, not even soy. Limit processed food, and most people will be more healthy.

    If people almost never eat wheat, meat, dairy, and suddenly eat it, it will always make the stomach upset, as the gut bacteria for that food item is gone or very low, and has to build again.

    That said, know that wheat, meat and dairy no longer has the quality it should have. Fruits and vegetable are also lower in quality now.