Bigger is not necessarily better. In the world of Sumo at least. Last night, as I watched with my very own eyes, the Mongolian champion Hakuho manhandled his opponent Kotooshu to remain undefeated at Summer Grand Sumo. The champion was one of the smallest (relatively speaking) wrestlers there. What a cultural experience. Sumo wrestlers pretty much do the opposite to what we might do to lose weight. They eat lots and often and their speciality is “chanko” nabe, and chunk nabe has tons and tons of meat. In fact, that’s about half of what you put in there. There’s all kinds of meat; beef, pork, chicken, you name it. Plus there are noodles cooked in the broth. Supposedly, this is what sumo wrestlers eat to keep the bulk on. I have tried to avoid the ‘sumo’ diet while in Japan, which is pretty easy as the food here is divine. I have had my yearly dose of omega-3 fats from all the delicious raw fish and seafood, a flood of anti-oxidants from vats of green and oolong tea and a ton of essential iodine from ribbons of seaweed. There is much to be learnt from Japanese portion sizes, they are much smaller than what we eat in the Western world and they don’t eat between meals. There are no coffee or tea breaks either. One would think this is all helping assist the Japanese in having the highest life expectancy in the world. Lets hope Sake has some benefits too.
My heart was touched today. I was privileged to visit Nishikasai Elementary School just out of Tokyo. The Grade Four students sang and danced to entertain their overseas guests and then we sat in their classroom and ate lunch with them. 99% of elementary schools provide lunch for their students and today this consisted of rice with kelp and fish fluff (very fine fish shavings) , grilled salmon with miso, radish salad, miso soup, fruit and milk. It was divine. All students sit at their desks and eat together and a catering company prepares the meals onsite. The kids were so excited to have us sitting at their desks and it was truly amazing how much two cultures can communicate when they have absolutely no language in common. Despite no English these 9 year olds knew what a kangaroo did ! Our Indian friends on tour with us explained their lunch program which is free and provided to 130 million children each day. Our Australian team couldn’t really explain to the other countries why we do not have a lunch program. Any explanation didn’t seem adequate next to 130 million meals per day! What if we could though? Each school meal costs parents $2.00, it ticks all the nutrition boxes and no home preparation, what an innovative and progressive idea. Each school has a nutrition teacher who may also be a Dietitian on their staff full-time, they are truly advanced in this area and their long term vision inspiring. Around 10% of children here are overweight and only 4% skip breakfast. Statistics to dream about in Australia.
Neon lights. Raw fish. 12 million people. Tokyo. I am sitting in the district of Shiodome,Tokyo where I am the guest of Yakult, the international company that produces what my kids call ‘baby milks.’ Hailing from the city of Perth where the population is only 1.5 million, walking around a city that houses 12 million people is true appreciation of the mass of humanity. I have experienced my first game of baseball watching the Yakult Swallows who sadly got beaten 6 to 5 by the Softbank Hawks, sponsored by the largest bank in Japan. It was like watching IPL cricket with the multitude of musical instruments, chanting and t-shirts flying out of bazooka’s. Not a meat pie in sight, hot dogs without buns, salmon rice rolls and hot noodles. Australians would love the kegs on legs, all beer companies are represented by staff walking around all night pouring beer from the kegs on their backs. My intestinal tract is very happy and I am making my way though the array of probiotic products available here and produced by Yakult, little bottles of liquid (or baby milks), yoghurt and drinking yoghurt. Research is showing a very positive effect of probiotic’s on our immune systems and our resistance to infection. Some people seem very concerned about the potential sugar content of Yakult but as 1 bottle contains only 52 calories, it really is insignificant. There is a ‘light’ version which has exactly the same quantity of beneficial bacteria but with 30% less sugar but once again, if you are only looking at 52 calories….. Off to Japanese Elementary School tomorrow to experience ‘Shokuiku’ their food and nutrition education and school lunch program.
Last weekend with what seemed like the entire population of Western Australia, I headed down to Fremantle for the Annual Chilli Festival. Fremantle is the beautiful port city of Perth and I was marvelling at how popular the Chilli Festival must be due to our inability to get a sardine spot on a train or a carpark. When a massive funnel presented itself at the dock it became apparent that the Queen Mary 2 was in for the day and there was a football game on as well. But back to the Chilli Festival. I am not good with chilli’s but I like the idea of them Read more
This afternoon I was lying back in the dentists chair getting a filling replaced. Don’t you love it when the dentist starts having a conversation with you after they have stuck as many instruments as possible in your mouth? I needed a diversion and funnily enough got to thinking about teeth and decay and how I managed to be getting a filling in the first place. After that pointless exercise my mind wandered off to one of the most common questions I get asked by parents. Do sports drinks cause dental decay? Read more