Ever wondered why there’s such a weight difference between the East and the West? Although cases of obesity might appear now and then in Asian countries, they are the exception.
In general, Asia is a thin continent. While part of it is genetic, the truth is that food choices vary widely among the continents.
If you spend time in Asia, you’ll soon realize portion sizes are much, much smaller than they are in America. As a result, the average Asian person eats a lot less by the end of the day, even when consuming four or five meals. In North America, you have the choice to either super size (fast food restaurants in Japan don’t have this option, for example) or to choose a very large meal to start with.
Japan and Korea both get most of their protein from either fish or soy (tofu). Red meats –which are a source of saturated fat and additional calories– are less common. Asia is also not a big consumer of dairy products, which contain not only lots of saturated fat, but also added sugars. Instead, Asia is more likely to produce and consume soymilk and other soy products.
You know the one thing Asian cuisine is not well-known for? Desserts. Cakes, cookies, chocolates and the like are not a big part of the Asian diet. Traditional Japanese sweets, for example, are made using a bean paste with a bit of added sugar. Hardly similar to a slice of chocolate mousse cake. Another typical dessert is a piece of fruit. Because sweets are not so popular, you’ll rarely find people snacking on sweet drinks either.
Going out doesn’t necessarily mean “having dinner” in Asian culture. In fact, friends are just likely to meet for an afternoon of karaoke or a walk through the city park, rather than going out to lunch or dinner. Because a restaurant meal is not considered an essential part of an outing, there’s less of a focus on food in general when people get together.